The Sacramento Regional Transit District is in the midst of a major cultural and operational change. Last week, RT shared its proposed Strategic Vision with the community. We have specific plans to provide the best transit service possible to the Sacramento region.
Recently, we have made dramatic changes, and are reviewing what can and should be done to further accelerate our transformation and optimize our value as a regional asset.
Our strategic vision is an ambitious, but essential, set of goals and specific initiatives that will improve efficiencies, increase service and frequency, focus on “customers first” and attract new riders. We will reach out to the broader community – especially current and potential riders – so that we are aligned.
Here’s a look at what’s ahead:
▪ RT will engage with broader community groups to fully understand the mobility needs and desires of our region.
▪ RT is committed to operating clean and safe trains and buses; we have prioritized security and cleaning operations, and reduced the fare-evasion rate by more than 15 percent.
▪ RT is dedicated to strengthening our finances and has tapped innovative revenue sources.
▪ RT has worked, and will continue to work, with our labor partners to build stronger employee relations, optimize processes and maximize efficiencies.
▪ RT has undergone a massive culture change, transitioning to be a more businesslike and customer-service-oriented agency.
We will examine systemwide route structures and make some tough decisions through a comprehensive “Route Optimization Study” to analyze how we should serve our communities better.
Our route structure was primarily designed 30 years ago. Land uses, travel patterns and economic centers have changed. Through this process, we will engage the community to reimagine the system. It is important that the community takes ownership of a new mobility blueprint for the future.
We will also explore how service and frequency might improve with additional local funding support, and we are considering a more long-term effort to significantly grow the system to make it easier and more convenient for people to choose and ride RT.
Simultaneously, we are continuing to shore up our finances. After years of tapping into reserves and nearing the edge of fiscal crisis, we are now in much better financial shape. But “much better” is not good enough. We must take steps to ensure we have sustainable funds to properly maintain our system and make capital investments.
Our revenue comes from a combination of fares and federal, state and local funding, and we need to look particularly closely at local funding levels.
Right now, we receive only one-sixth of each penny from Sacramento’s Measure A. This is woefully inadequate and far less than other similar cities. Compared to other regions such as Portland, Seattle and San Diego, we are 4.5 times underfunded at the local level. Even if previously failed Measure B had passed, we still would be three times underfunded. Our local investment in public transportation is significantly below the minimum requirement to make this region economically viable.
Furthermore, more than 20 percent of our operating budget comes from federal funding, and there is a real risk that this may be cut. That would bring devastating reductions to our service, and we would need to identify alternative funding sources very quickly.
We are working relentlessly to provide a clean, safe and convenient transit experience for all citizens in the region. And we are inspired by the extraordinary support from community advocacy groups, businesses and top regional leaders such as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and others. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to move this region to a new level.
Henry Li is the general manager and CEO at the Sacramento Regional Transit District. He can be contacted at email@example.com.