Elk Grove City Council Defers on Changes to e-Tran Bus Services, Calls on Sac Regional Transit to Improve

May 28, 2015 | After two public workshops, a rider-led petition drive, hundreds of public comment submissions and close to two hours...

May 28, 2015 |

After two public workshops, a rider-led petition drive, hundreds of public comment submissions and close to two hours of deliberations at their regular meeting last night, the Elk Grove City Council night decided against making any large-scale changes to the city's e-Tran bus express commuter routes.  

The most significant proposed changes would have been the elimination of the city's popular express commuter routes to Downtown Sacramento. If the routes would have been eliminated, the city would have offered bus services to feed riders to Sacramento Regional Transit's Light Rail stations on Meadowview and a new one opening this September at Cosumnes River College for their commute to Downtown Sacramento.

Along with explaining the proposed route changes, Transit Manager Jean Folleta noted that her department will conduct a comprehensive operational analysis of the city's bus services later this summer. She also said that 469 of the approximately of the 1,000 commuters responded to their survey, with 86-percent in opposition to the proposed changes.

"Although we had 469 people respond, there is still that other 50-percent of the riders we have not heard from," she noted. "So we are not quite sure what they would do and if they would consider light rail as an option."

In the lead-up to last night's meeting, the proposed express commuter changes met with stiff resistance at both public workshop meetings and in written comments submitted to the city. Most of the comments expressed concerns about increased commute times and safety on Light Rail.

During public comments, Elk Grove resident Jonathon Meltzer pushed back on Foletta comments noting that a 50-percent response on the survey was a good sampling. He also expressed concern that the operational analysis is being done after routes are being considered for elimination.

"I would also question why we are considering an action item at this point if an operational effectiveness study is to be implemented later this summer," Meltzer said. "It seems to me that may be putting the cart before the horse."  

Citing a recent Harvard University study, Elk Grove resident Lance Yokota noted the link between the length of commutes and poverty rates.

"Commuting time has emerged as the single, strongest factor in the odds of escaping poverty," Yokota said.  "The longer the average commute, the worse the chances of low income families moving up the ladder."

During their deliberations, Vice Mayor Pat Hume said he would be unwilling to make any major changes to system at this time based on Regional Transit's operational and public safety problems as well as the concerns expressed by affected riders. He echoed the concerns voiced during the public comment regarding route changes being proposed prior to completion of the operational analysis.

"Why are we making changes to routes before we do a comprehensive operational analysis," he queried. 

Council Member Steve Detrick suggested that a fare increase might be in order noting many of the e-Tran riders enjoy employer subsidies and the city's subsidy of each fare is about 75-percent of the costs.

"There needs to be some better sharing from the commuters on the expenses, "Detrick said. "My recommendation would be that we a commuter add-on feature, you have the base price, whatever it is, $50, $100 per month."

Mayor Gary Davis acknowledged the numerous concerns expressed by e-Tran riders and the direction the council decided to take, but noted that communities such as Folsom had similar challenges when they converted commuters to Light Rail. Davis said those concerns were resolved after a few months and expressed hope that Elk Grove will integrated into the Light Rail system some day.

"It's sort of clear where we are going here and I'm not going to ague with that," Davis said. "From my perspective, I'd like to say, 'Let's give it a shot' but I know it is not fair to put riders in that situation until RT [Regional Transit] has cleaned-up their act."


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Mark Doty said...

There is a huge difference between Light Rail to Folsom and Light Rail to CRC. LR to Folsom actually goes to Folsom with 3 stops within the city limits including Old Town. CRC isn't within the city of Elk Grove with most residents living far from the CRC or Franklin Blvd stations. The LR users in Folsom almost exclusively drive to the park and ride lots. They don't waste valuable time transferring from the bus to LR.

Anonymous said...

another option would be to live closer to work, or work closer to where you live. therefore eliminating needing any bus or light rail public transportation dependency. thousands of other people do it, why not you....

Ralph Kramden said...

If you kick the can down the road long enough, the can will get worn down and the opponents will eventually get worn down. Throw in a few "operational studies" and you have Leadership at its finest!

Anonymous said...

Yes Mark, you are right. Comparing Light Rail to Folsom and Light Rail to CRC is an unresolvable and ultimately useless comparison.

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