Transportation

Who’s the best mass transit chief in the country? He’s right here in Sacramento

Drop that cigarette! When the ‘Voice of God’ scolds them, scofflaws comply

Sacramento Regional Transit has installed an new loudspeaker system that allows people watching the stations at a control center to speak directly to riders on the ground.
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Sacramento Regional Transit has installed an new loudspeaker system that allows people watching the stations at a control center to speak directly to riders on the ground.

Sacramento Regional Transit chief Henry Li, hired as a change-agent three years ago, has been named the top public transit executive in the country for 2019 by the American Public Transportation Association.

Li, who previously worked at transit agencies in Atlanta, San Francisco and Jacksonville, took over the financially troubled Sacramento agency in 2016 with marching orders to right the ship. He is credited with pulled the SacRT budget out of the red, and improving the agency’s image by adding security officers on light-rail trains and by increasing train cleaning.

APTA, in announcing the award, called Li “a visionary and transformational leader” who has restored positive financial ratings and rebuilt public trust. “It takes a true leader with a focused vision to achieve the impressive results seen in his three year term at SacRT,” said APTA President Paul Skoutelas.

SacRT is the region’s largest transit agency, operating bus and light-rail service through most of Sacramento County.

SacRT recently won recognition the Transportation Security Administration for its security and safety efforts. The agency will introduce new bus routes and expanded service hours in September that officials say will fit modern travel patterns, the first major overhaul of routes in 30 years.

It also has begun testing “micro-transit” services in several areas, allowing riders to summon shuttles via smartphone app. The agency recently concluded a deal to take over transit operations in the city of Elk Grove.

“Henry hit the ground running and has been a difference-maker in improving the safety of our transit system and expanding the suite of mobility options for Sacramentans of all ages and abilities,” Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said in an emailed statement. “Henry’s commitment to safety, accessibility, and innovation are positioning SacRT for a bright future.”

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