Sacramento Regional Transit announced plans Monday to rethink its 30-year-old bus route system, starting from scratch.
Speaking at an agency board “strategic vision” workshop, RT officials said the metropolitan area has changed in the 30 years since the bus routes were first established, making the system – still largely focused on serving downtown – less effective. New employment centers, such as in Rancho Cordova and Folsom, have grown.
“Downtown plays an important but less predominant role in the regional economy,” said RT official Laura Ham. “The time is right for RT to engage the community and re-imagine the system. Our service design should reflect the region as it stands today and as it is projected to grow.”
The study effort likely will start this summer and could take up to two years, RT said.
RT officials say they are girding themselves for potential bad news this spring from Washington D.C. Incoming Sacramento Area Council of Governments executive James Corless – current head of Washington, D.C.-based Transportation For America – spoke briefly to the RT board Monday, telling them he is hearing is that the Trump administration could cut funding for transit.
RT gets about 21 percent of its annual $163 million operating budget from federal sources.
The bus service route analysis is one of a dozen initiatives the agency hopes to undertake in the next two years, RT General Manager Henry Li said.
Others include improving bus driver attendance, adding real-time messaging and other technological improvements at light rail stations, increased fare inspections, more transit-oriented development around rail stations, and new funding sources to improve the agency’s fiscal standing.
Li and board members said they want to show they are managing their existing resources well so they can go to county voters – possibly in 2018 – to ask for a transportation sales tax increase. That would include money to pay for new, “low-floor” trains and buses that riders can step directly into from the sidewalk.
Last November, 65 percent of Sacramento County voters supported a similar transportation sales tax, some of it for transit, but most for road repairs. That measure failed because it needed a 67 percent voter approval. Some RT board members this week suggested RT should consider proposing a sales tax initiative next time around for transit only.