As Elk Grove City Council Contemplates e-Tran Changes, Maybe Some MBWA is in Order

March 10, 2015 | On Thursday night, the Elk Grove City Council will host the first of two public forums on proposed changes to the ci...

March 10, 2015 |

On Thursday night, the Elk Grove City Council will host the first of two public forums on proposed changes to the city's transit bus system, e-Tran.

At the heart of the changes being explored is a proposal to re-route all the Downtown Sacramento commuter lines to the Sacramento Regional Transit's (SRT) Cosumnes River College (CRC) Light Rail station opening this September. Instead of running downtown, the affected routes would be re-directed to the CRC or Meadowview stations where they would transfer to Light Rail for the balance of the commute.

As expressed by the City of Elk Grove,  part of the logic for the proposed change is to feed the new so-called Blue Line from the CRC station and demonstrate that there is sufficient demand in Elk Grove. The thought is if it can be demonstrated there is sufficient ridership on the Blue Line from Elk Grove riders, perhaps SRT will extend the line to Elk Grove.

On the surface, it is not an unreasonable assumption. However, there are a few things to note.

During a discussion on the city's transit needs at last week's special City Council meeting, Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill noted extending the Blue Line seems like a low priority for SRT. Gill opined that she thought SRT's priority was to extend Light Rail to Roseville over Elk Grove.

"RT is going to the airport before Elk Grove," Regional Transit Board  Member and Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume said in agreement.

Incidental to this, as part of my New Year's resolution, I have started taking about two e-Tran trips per week on commuter route 58. Although my personal commute consumes more time than driving a car, it offers personal health and societal benefits.

Having said that, in the wake of the proposed route termination at the Cosumnes Rive College station, I might well reevaluate taking e-Tran to transfer to Light Rail. Currently from the time I step on a bus to the time I arrive at my work, which includes a mile and a half bike ride from the last stop on a.m. 58, takes about 65 minutes. This does not include the time I spend waiting for a.m. 58, which has never been on time.

This compares to about a 30-45 minute morning and evening car commute times. Personally, unless it can be demonstrated that taking 58 to CRC, transferring to Light Rail, and riding my bike takes about the same time, the benefits I noted earlier will be reconsidered. At some point, time-spent commuting becomes an overriding consideration.

Granted, I am an atypical commuter. From my experience on 58, most of the riders get off the bus and walk to work.

In nonchalant chats with fellow commuters about the proposed changes, many thoughts have been expressed. Some riders fear longer commute times given that a.m. 58 is rarely on time.

Others noted that based on existing Light Rail stops in downtown, they may be unwilling to walk several blocks compared to 58's current route configuration. This, combined with longer commutes, will erase the benefits and maybe push them into some other way of commuting.        

Everyone I spoke with expressed general satisfaction with e-Tran services and said they like the convenience that route 58 provides them. A few, including myself, have said they would be willing to pay higher fares to preserve the current service.
etran a.m. route 58 from Elk Grove to Sacramento. 

As the City Council considers changing commuter routes, I suggest they employ a somewhat cliched, but useful  management meme. I am referring to the management principle establish by Hewlett-Packard and popularized by 80s management guru Tom Peters - MBWA - Managing by Wandering Around.

It would be a good idea for each of the Council Members, the Mayor and senior staff members involved in this decision to take several rides on one of the commuter routes, perhaps one that runs through their district, and talk to riders.

Just strike up a conversation with a commuter or two and see what they have to say. Moreover, don't worry, it is unlikely most commuters will be unaware you are a Council Member, much less a city executive. Listen to what they have to say - you just might learn something. 

When I asked a fellow rider this morning if she would be attending Thursday's workshop that starts at 6 p.m., she said she would like to, but cannot make it.

"I don't get off my bus until 6:30 [p.m.]," she said.


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Warren Buffett said...

If the city has lost a lot of transportation grants, MLS soccer, large job creators, and other economic development drivers because it has no light rail, then who better to blame than RT, and SACOG?

Funny how the second largest city in Sac County snubbed RT in the olden days and "bought" into a go-it-alone strategy. Well, the CNG chickens on wheels have come home to roost and now our leaders are paying the price.

The e-tran riders have become accustomed to downtown service; have turned their noses up at the light rail demographic; e-tran continues to suck precious funds from the city budget--and the regional economic players continue to view EG as just an irrelevant outlying suburb.

The blame game gives political cover for our "leaders": RT doesn't like us; SACOG doesn't like suburbs; the jobs/housing imbalance is not our fault, so please forgive us LAFCo for wanting to build more rooftops; and oh yeah, Kevin Johnson is a ball hog!

At some point, leaders are judged by their results--not by their rhetoric.

Lynn said...

Warren Buffet,

some good words...however of the 160,000+ that call this home many are very unaware of what goes on in the city....the leaders can give themselves raises because they evaluate themselves. And guess what? they are believe they are doing an excellent job of building a great city. Just ask them.

They are not building a great city....they are building an empire....and guess what happens to empires? Eventually they collapse and so to will this whose expense???
The residents(servants).....Servants to commutes and the city's "Overriding Consideration General Plan written by developers...
Servants to wanting the "American Dream"....servants to just making ends meet in a slowly recovering economy.
Servants who have been discouraged from participanting in local city council meetings for a variety of legitmate reasons... Do I fault the servants NO!....
Empire building....and along the way the blame game.....blame SACOG, blame RT, blame Kevin Johnson, blame LAFCo.....blame the Economic Developer Director, Blame the previous City Council, Blame the City Manger who is running out of pencils to sharpen, blame the vocal who do not operate under the herd mentality....blame blame......
In the mean time raise sales tax to fix our roads!

Anonymous said...


Continued drought, one of the worst in over 500 years and they want to allow more new home construction which will lead to even more high density Low Income Housing Projects?

Elk Grove already has enough homes to bring jobs.

Is this a city for and by the developers?

Why should current residents be forced to let their lawns die, not be able to flush just so that home builders build new homes?

Makes no sense at all!

Quit building homes until more employers move to Elk Grove.

Elk Grove is turning into a steaming dumpster fire of a sprawling blob suburb.

Brian Clemons said...

Warren.. You have no idea what you are talking about. Review the facts. Whomever first tried to figure out transit for Elk Grove is at fault. Hence the 10 Million dollars worth of crap wanna be electric buses still sitting here collecting dust. We should have went with SacRT's offer.. Better service even with light rail opening up to CRC in September. Better than E-Tran. Their site, their customer service, everything.. Um... C R A P.

Brian Clemons said...

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