Elk Grove, RT Officials Hear an Earful From Commuters Over Proposed e-Tran Route Change

March 12, 2015 | In the first of two public workshops scheduled by the City of Elk Grove to gather input and explain possible commuter ...

March 12, 2015 |

In the first of two public workshops scheduled by the City of Elk Grove to gather input and explain possible commuter route changes to the city's e-Tran bus service, quickly turned into a raucous meeting last night.

The workshop, which was held at the Elk Grove City Hall City Council chambers, attracted a standing-room-only audience of over 100 bus riders, The workshop was supposed to feature four information stations where the participants submitted comments and viewed proposed changes.

From the start, it was clear the audience had a different agenda. They were more interested in airing concerns about proposed route changes to several popular round-trip commuter routes to Downtown Sacramento that would be rerouted to feed riders to two Sacramento Regional Transit Light Rail Stations.

Among those in attendance for the city were Transit Manager Jean Foletta, Council Member Darren Suen, and representing SRT was Rose Mary Covington, Assistant General Manager of Planning and Transit.

Barely after she finished opening comments, Foletta was barraged with a wide range of concerns ranging from increased commute times, security on the light rail and cleanliness of the rail cars. Many of the questions about the safety and cleanliness of light rail cars were directed at Covington.

"This is our workshop too," one audience member said. "I also have a petition with over 300 signatures that are opposed to the change."

After her announcement, several members of the audience asked to sign the petition. After close to 45 minutes of public comments, it was decided those wanting to view the displays for the workshop could do so in the lobby, while the open forum would continue in chambers.

During an earlier Elk Grove City Council meeting, one reason given for the proposed changes was to demonstrate a demand in Elk Grove for Light Rail Services. At tonight's meeting Foletta and Suen also suggested by feeding commuters to Light Rail, resources could be redirected to help bolster intra-Elk Grove bus routes. 

Elk Grove bus riders expressed concern about possible changes
to the city's popular e-Tran commuter routes to Downtown 
Sacramento. 
The dominant concern raised throughout the meeting was that by eliminating the commuter routes and directing e-Tran rider to Light Rail, commute time to Downtown Sacramento would substantially increase. Many in attendance said given the increased commute times, they might revert to driving cars.

One audience member said the proposed changes would increase his commute time by two hours. He also said his existing commute is longer than driving his own car, but is willing to do for a variety of societal reasons. 

"At that point, I'll get back in the car," he said.

"One of the options we could go to the council with is 'do nothing,'" Foletta said. "Given the feedback we are getting, one of the options is to do nothing and wait."

After hearing numerous concerns expressed about safety and cleanliness on rail cars, Covington said she will bring SRT Police Officers and operations personnel to the next scheduled meeting. 

"We want to directly respond to your questions," Covingtion told the audience. 

Addressing constituent's concerns, Suen said he understood their concerns and he asked the audience to help find solutions. He also expressed his desire to help increase intra-city bus services. 

"I'm hearing you loud and clear," he said.

The next public workshop meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 26 at 6 p.m at the Elk Grove City Hall City Council Chambers.

Below is a video of the meeting.





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6 comments

Connie said...

Kudos to the residents of this city who ride E-tran to give the city their version of “We are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!”

It was the city’s choice to form its own bus service, against the outspoken wishes of some of these same riders and many more of us who believed starting our own police department and bus service in the same year was insane. We warned the Council this expensive system would be a big drain on the city’s budget, then and into the future. And now that E-tran is costing too much money -- no surprise there -- the Council wants to cut services again.

The current Council did not vote to form this bus service, but they have to live with the consequences of their predecessors who swore we would have superior service to Regional Transit and make good on their promises.

Our residents who are getting cars of the road deserve a good public transportation system and it must be easy and convenient to use, along with fast, safe, clean and affordable. From a social perspective, public transport is often the only means of transport for the lower income residents in our city, not to mention the disabled.

That is what the residents of this city were promised and the Council needs to make good on those promises.

Warren Buffett said...

Thanks for the historical backdrop Connie.

The tired old ruse about RT not wanting to respond to the needs of Elk Grove so we needed to form our own bus service is getting old. Now that we are the second largest city in Sac County and have the worst jobs/housing imbalance in he region, they can no longer say that we wouldn't have more leverage at the bargaining table with RT to expand bus service to our area--our leaders never wanted to work with RT in the first place.

It has only been since these pie-in-the-sky destination projects have surfaced that the need to scrape up money to pay for them has become an issue. They borrowed from the drainage fund; they borrowed from the road fund; they shuffled money from here to there--so e-tran was going to be a likely source of money eventually--of course they had to wait until the elections were over.

The chickens have come home to roost and they are fighting mad. People tend to get more angrier if you cut something from them, as opposed to never offering it to them to begin with. It never really made sense to me why e-Tran traveled across RT service boundaries to deliver "door-step" service downtown. After all, RT dropped Galt riders off in EG, so they could board the e-Tran to downtown!

The cynic in me says this is more than attempting to free up precious cash for the destination projects and show support for light rail. It is also to get people fuming mad about their service cuts so they will vote in favor of the impending state gas tax increase and county sales tax measure--not to mention extending the current Measure A tax.

If you make unwise policy decisions, they eventually collapse under their own weight. That sucking noise you hear is the money being taken out of our wallets to pay for those mistakes!

Anonymous said...

Elk Grove, the destination city, the Thriving City, the sister city to the Kingdom of Zamunsa is starting to resemble a huge dumpster fire!

Anonymous said...

I applaud Councilmen Suen and City staff for handling the hostel crowd. Clearly this was not what they had expected was going to happen. Too bad Mr. Hume, Davis, or Detrick weren't there to take the heat. They are the one's who have allowed this mess to happen.

Anonymous said...

It was obvious that the city and RT are out-of-touch with the riders and their needs...four information tables set up??

Think Warren Buffett has it right...more to it than meets the eye.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Elk Grove residents who work, work outside of Elk Grove. Probably the vast majority of those commuters work in downtown Sacramento. Get the names of the City Council members behind this proposal and threaten to vote them out of office.

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