Light-rail stations across the Sacramento area are getting baths, and soon some will get makeovers, as part of an effort by Regional Transit to clean up its act.
Spurred by the planned opening of the Golden 1 Center sports and entertainment arena, the transit agency has signed a series of agreements with private groups, most recently the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, to ramp up cleaning and maintenance of dozens of bus stops and rail stations. The downtown arena is scheduled to open in October 2016.
RT General Manager Mike Wiley said he hopes to go beyond just tidying the light-rail stations.
This month, he plans to ask his board to approve spending $5.7 million to upgrade selected stops on the light-rail lines that will play an important role in serving riders attending games and other events in the new arena at Fifth and K streets, on the site of the former Downtown Plaza.
The series of station-cleaning contracts and planned station upgrades come after several downtown business leaders challenged the transit agency to make its system more attractive, safe and convenient for the thousands of new riders expected to give the trains and buses a try when the arena opens.
We want a clean environment. We want a vibrant and clean downtown.
Dion Dwyer, Downtown Sacramento Partnership
The business group, including members of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, said many central city stations haven’t been upgraded since they were opened in the 1980s and are “tired and uninviting.”
On Friday morning of last week, the partnership’s first crews were out at 11th and K streets, scrubbing that station and doing touch-up painting. Partnership officials said they will give power cleanings to stations and bus stops in the core area twice a week. Workers also will erase graffiti.
“When we are fully up and running, there will be a noticeable difference,” said Dion Dwyer, manager of the partnership’s “Clean & Safe” program. “We want a clean environment. We want a vibrant and clean downtown.”
RT similarly has signed recent deals with business groups along Del Paso Boulevard and in the Power Inn Road area, as well as a deal with the city of Rancho Cordova to clean and maintain bus stops and parts of light-rail stations in those areas. It plans to ink one soon with the Mack Road Partnership in south Sacramento. Wiley said the agency will pay the groups a total of $300,000 annually.
The nearly $6 million for the station upgrades will come from state reimbursements for bonds the agency sold when it was building the recent line extension to Cosumnes River College.
Wiley said up to $800,000 of that will go toward remodeling the station on Seventh Street between L Street and Capitol Mall. That station, a block and a half from the downtown arena, is expected to get the most usage from arena eventgoers, and RT would likely give it a “flagship” presence.
Wiley said plans include constructing a 150-foot-long canopy over the boarding area, protecting users from sun and rain. He also envisions replacing the original benches and station equipment, and improving lighting and signage. The east side of Seventh Street on that block will be closed to cars during major arena events so riders can enter and exit on both sides of trains.
Regional Transit also is in early talks with the Sacramento Kings about how the team might help RT with upgrades. That could include some form of Kings or arena branding at the Seventh and Capitol station. The transit district also may advertise the Kings, the arena or the new downtown on the sides of some light-rail train cars.
“In return, they would promote information we want shared to their customers, as well as funding for the operating cost of enhanced service” for arenagoers, Wiley said, stressing that the agency and Kings have not come to any deal.
In an email to The Sacramento Bee, Kings President Chris Granger said the Kings and RT are “mutually exploring potential branding opportunities that would help create a dynamic user experience.” He said he is looking forward to seeing RT’s ideas for upgrading its stations.
Stations expected to see the most use from people attending arena events include several others downtown, as well as those at Folsom, Sunrise, Mather/Mills, Power Inn, Watt/I-80, Cosumnes River College, Franklin and Florin. Wiley said the the park-and-ride lots at those stations can handle 6,400 cars in total.
Those stations could get new lighting, signs, paint jobs, furniture or ticketing machines, depending on each station’s need.
RT projects that at least 15 percent of Kings game attendees will arrive by transit, Wiley said. That’s 2,600 riders for a full house. Transit officials have said they hope to carry more fans than that. Light-rail trains carried 4,000 attendees at a Republic FC soccer match last year at Hughes Stadium on the Sacramento City College campus.
RT plans to boost service during major arena events, including having several trains at the ready when fans leave the arena after events.
The transit district is considering closing the closest station to the arena, at Seventh and K streets. Officials say the block-long, four-car trains would get in the way of crowd movement at that site. Wiley said most riders coming to the arena would use other stations when arriving, even if the Seventh and K station were still in operation.