Make no mistake, the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Republic FC are looking out for their own best interests. Smoothing the trip for fans to attend their games means more money for the city’s pro basketball and soccer teams.
Yet it’s also in the broader public interest for Regional Transit to fix its customer service problems and draw more riders. So the teams’ social media campaign is welcome, and it’s a positive sign that RT is on board.
The Kings are counting on fans to use light rail to get to the downtown arena when it opens in October 2016, as The Sacramento Bee’s Tony Bizjak reported this week. Otherwise, there could be an unholy traffic mess, especially for weeknight games when downtown workers are headed home.
If it becomes a Major League Soccer franchise, Republic FC plans a new stadium in the downtown railyard, next to Sacramento Valley Station. The willingness of fans to use light rail was proved last year when its matches were at Sacramento City College.
Part of a broader effort by business leaders to push Regional Transit to improve service, “Fix My Ride 916” allows riders and nonriders to post comments, complaints and questions on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and gives RT officials a way to directly respond. The transit system plans a smartphone app of its own so riders can report issues immediately.
Rightly, RT is trying to pre-empt safety concerns on the new Blue Line extension that opens Monday to Cosumnes River College. It is working with Elk Grove to start a “rider watch” group to keep the trains safe.
RT got slammed during the recession, when government funding dried up and service was cut. It is still recovering. More frequent feedback from its riders can help, if RT truly listens.