Will Commuter Anger, Political Concerns Dictate Elk Grove City Council's e-Tran Restructuring Decisions?

November 2, 2015 | Although last Thursday night's transit workshop conducted by the City of Elk Grove was billed as a means of ga...

November 2, 2015 |

Although last Thursday night's transit workshop conducted by the City of Elk Grove was billed as a means of gathering input for a comprehensive transit analysis that is underway, most of the audience had their mind on other transportation topics.

The topic on the minds of the audience was what effect the recently opened Sacramento Regional Transit’s Blue Line light rail will have on Elk Grove's e-Tran bus system. Specifically, the audience was interested to find out if their coveted e-Tran's commuter buses to downtown Sacramento will be eliminated, and if a spate of recent e-Tran operational failures were a ploy by the city to justify such a move.

After hearing presentations from city transit manager Jean Foletta and lead consultants Steve Wilks of IBI Group, Terry Thompson General Manager of MV Transportation, the contract operator of Elk Grove's e-Tran bus service also spoke to the approximate three dozen people on hand.

In her introduction of Thompson, Foletta sought to assure riders in attendance of the city's actual intentions.

"We absolutely recognize that we been having service challenges, we know that, we know that's not good,” Foletta said. Trust me, there is no ploy, we've hear that from so many people, that there is some sort of conspiracy to move our riders and passengers off of our service to light rail, that's not the case."

When he spoke, Thompson said the service failures were the result of driver shortages and acknowledged they were going through some "rough patches." Thompson said once they hire drivers, and after they gain experience, they flee for higher paying jobs with employers like Sacramento Regional Transit.

Thompson echoed Foletta and sought to squelch the rumors that there was a ploy to divert riders to light rail.

"I want to reassure you that we are fully committed," Thompson said. "There is no theory on trying to move people to light rail."

After the presentations, the audience broke into three groups to discuss transit needs in the city. While the city sought to spark on conversations on the entire spectrum of the city's transit needs, most participants were most interested in discussing commuter routes.

At one table, five state government workers expressed concern that they will be forced off existing commuter express routes to Downtown Sacramento and compelled to use light rail. A few of the state workers said co-workers in Folsom complained when their commuter routes were eliminated once light rail was brought in there.    

"I don't want to be like Folsom," one female participant said. "They had it forced on them."

Among the common complaints cited by participants was if they were compelled to use light rail commute times would substantially increase, and female riders also noted safety concerns. Several participants also said they believe the city has done a poor job of communicating the possible changes.

"I am not a conspiracy theorist, but no one knows about this," one participant said of possible route changes.

When asked if commuter routes were eliminated, would they take their anger out at council member on next November's ballot, there was unanimous agreement. They all said they would vote against anyone who cut the downtown commuter express routes.

So as riders prepare for the findings of the analysis, which are expected by March 2016, Mayor Gary Davis and Council Members Steve Detrick and Darren Suen will undoubtedly watch voters' moods, and make their political calculations in the time leading up to elections one year from now.  

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Anonymous said...

If the downtown commuters like their service so much, maybe a fare increase is in order. I don't know why the city needs another expensive study to figure that one out. My guess is they can point the blame to the study if it doesn't turn out the way the downtown commuters hopes it does.

Anonymous said...

You would think that one day we would just accidently get something right the first try. That old word "re" just keeps popping up and we're back at the beginning...no progress being made. Someone get that can opener out and lets leave those "res., studies & polls" in the trash where they belong. Otherwise the voters of this fine city are going to be forced to "re" visit who we support come next election cycle.

Anonymous said...

For them to say it's not a ploy, sounds like it is. Only a guilty conscious would say something like that. Anyways, EG commuter's want NOTHING to do with disgusting light rail. If you need to increase our fair a little to keep your drivers, do it!

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