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Sacramento light rail agency wants to make station ‘naming rights’ deals

New Sacramento light rail line faces closure

Sacramento Regional Transit is considering temporarily shuttering its lightly used Green Line to save money. The line was opened four years ago.
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Sacramento Regional Transit is considering temporarily shuttering its lightly used Green Line to save money. The line was opened four years ago.

Sacramento Regional Transit is searching hard these days for ways to shore up its shaky finances and has come up with an idea. The agency wants to sell naming rights to light-rail stations. Who’d be interested, and how much would they pay?

“We don’t know. We have to see who responds,” said spokeswoman Devra Selenis.

RT has struggled in the past to interest businesses in advertising. Board chair Jay Schenirer said last week that the agency needs to prove that it really is providing a cleaner, friendlier and safer service before major sponsors are likely to sign on.

“We need to earn that trust,” he said.

A few other agencies have similar programs. The Minnesota Vikings reportedly paid $300,000 to put their stadium name on a nearby light-rail station. UC San Diego signed a deal worth millions for naming rights to several stations and a rail line.

How about Kings Station at Capitol Mall (with purple lights?). Or Sacramento State Station? That would be a U-turn of sorts for the university. When light rail was first built in the 1980s, then-campus President Lloyd Johns pointedly let it be known he “was not at all interested” in having light rail come on campus.

There is some precedent here. Construction of the new “Township 9” station on the Green Line north of downtown was partially paid for by the development group that is building the adjacent Township 9 community. The T9 developers were willing to invest because they wanted a cool-looking station.

There’s also the Fourth Avenue/Wayne Hultgren station in Land Park, but that’s a thank you to the late Hultgren, a relentless light-rail advocate, who lived a few blocks away.

Sacramento Regional Transit is improving its customer service by becoming more entrepreneurial, more aggressive and getting back to basics.

Unfair toll fare

The camera never lies? Wrong.

Last year, we wrote about a woman on a farm near the Oregon border who was deluged with notices from Bay Area bridge officials telling her she owed them hundreds of dollars in bridge crossing tolls. But she hadn’t driven her truck to the Bay Area for 15 years. The Bay Area Toll Authority’s license plate readers had confused a U with a 1 on another car’s plate. It took months of letters and calls to get it cleared up.

It appears to have happened again, this time to an 86-year-old Sacramento woman. She got a $25.30 evasion violation notice from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for failing to pay toll lane fees on a freeway down there last month.

Her daughter-in-law called us. “The only place she drives is the Dollar Store,” she said. “She won’t even drive to our house at night.”

The woman will challenge the violation. An LA Metro spokesman acknowledged that agency’s plate readers also confuse numbers and letters sometimes. Mistakes can happen, toll officials say, when the plate is dirty, or the frame obscures part of the lettering, or the camera lens is not clean, or when there’s a reflection.

Yolo arena shuttles

When the downtown Golden 1 Center arena opens, Yolobus will rejigger its routes to get Woodland, Davis and other Yolo residents downtown and home again, no matter how late the games or shows run. But it’s a bit tricky, because Sacramento is likely to close some streets around the arena on some event nights.

Yolo officials say they will bring buses into the West Sacramento transit center, then send frequent free shuttles into downtown Sacramento, stopping a few blocks from the arena. We’ll provide more Yolobus and other transit details near the Oct. 4 arena opening date.

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