Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 2

PASSENGER

Transport

Commentary

ISSN 0364-345X
The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis

VOLUME 75, NUMBER 11
ESTABLISHED 1943

Transforming Culture
At the Speed of Light Rail

Published bi-weekly by the American Public
Transportation Association, 1300 I St., NW,
Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC 20005;
(202) 496-4800; Fax (202) 496-4321; www.apta.com

Five Milestones on an Agency's Road Map for Change
BY HENRY LI
General Manager/CEO
Sacramento Regional Transit District

C

hanging the culture of a struggling
public transit agency can seem like an
insurmountable task, but it's achievable
with vision and a clearly defined road map.
In spring 2016, the Sacramento Regional
Transit District (SACRT), the largest
public transit provider in the capital
region of California, was in financial
crisis with a poor reputation and lack of
quality service. As the new general manager/CEO, my top priorities were image
rebuilding, reestablishing trust with the
community and operating the agency
like a business-one that is transparent,
accountable and puts customers first. In
less than 18 months, we have made
rapid and comprehensive turnarounds
in five areas:
1. A New SACRT Is Moving the Region.
Leveraging the support of the SACRT
Board of Directors, we built a dedicated
team of professionals who are committed to improving service and enhancing
the agency's public image.
We worked with staff, our board and
all key stakeholders in the region to
pursue excellence
by promoting a
world-class SACRT
vision, developing
performance goals
and accountability measures and
inspiring people
to go above and
beyond.

to reduce debt service by half, and
renegotiated service contracts, reducing
costs more than 20 percent. Employee
pension reform measures reduced the
agency's financial obligation from
26 percent to just 3 percent for a group
of new employees. These cost avoidance
measures saved the agency more than
10 percent of the total operating budget,
an astounding $20 million savings in
less than an 18-month period.
We also improved our revenue bond
rating this past April, significantly boosting confidence in SACRT's future. Additional sources of revenue are anticipated
through station naming rights and TOD
programs, both made possible through
service and associated public image
improvements.
3. Embarking on a Massive Culture
Change. Our motto at SACRT is
"Customers First." Period.
The SACRT
team leaves no
stone unturned
when it comes to
improving service
to elevate the customer experience.
Here are a few: We
extended the customer service center hours, increased
front-line customer
service staffing
by 7 percent and
reduced administrative positions and
implemented a first mile/last mile pilot
program with Uber, Lyft and Yellow Cab.

Through effective
communication,
transparency and
accountability, SACRT
has transformed
critical opponents into
strong supporters.

2. Enhancing Fiscal
Stability. Our fiscal position is significantly improving. SACRT has aggressively implemented revenue-generating
initiatives, such as renegotiating fare
agreements with partner cities, exploring advertising opportunities, educating
the public about the importance of local
funding, increasing fares and launching
mobile ticketing to attract choice riders.
As a result, SACRT has quickly built a
sizable cash reserve and increased fare
revenue by 16.5 percent.
Aggressive cost containment and
risk mitigation measures are saving the
agency millions and minimizing the risk
exposures. We successfully negotiated
with unions to reduce annual salary
adjustments, restructured revenue bonds
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4. Prioritizing Safety and Security. We
have renewed our efforts to maintain a
safe and secure transportation system
24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Using technology and innovation to
improve security, we introduced Alert
SacRT, a mobile safety and security app
that enables passengers to send pictures,
texts and video directly to police if they
see suspicious activity.
Additionally, $6 million in system
upgrades have been invested in light rail
stations, including 2,000 security cam-

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2 | Passenger Transport

eras, LED lighting and new fare vending machines. The addition of 25 new
transit agents improved our security
presence and reduced fare evasion from
nearly 20 percent to 5 percent in one
year.
5. Building Strong Partnerships. Finally,
elevating internal and external communications to provide total transparency
has been a major shift for the agency.
Throughout this past year, we have
worked to establish strong partnerships
with all stakeholders, and reestablished
trust with news media and many
communities that we serve. SACRT
has received extensive positive news
coverage and has been honored with
accolades and awards for running the
organization like a business by putting
customers first.
Through our strong partnerships and
collaborations, SACRT played a major
role in the April passage of California
SB1, a $5.3 billion annual transportation
funding package.
SACRT has won high praises through
a cleaner, safer and more convenient service experience for more than 200 arena
events, resulting in thousands more
first-time riders. Through effective communication, transparency and accountability, SACRT has transformed critical
opponents into strong supporters.
The Road Ahead. We are now looking to
the future to accelerate our transformation and elevate SACRT's value in providing a world-class regional mobility
network.
We plan to engage with community
groups and key stakeholders over the
next couple of years to ascertain the
full scope of the region's mobility needs
and develop a comprehensive plan to
grow ridership. Our comprehensive
Route Optimization Study will allow
us to analyze how to better serve our
communities. Working together, we will
develop a route structure that is community oriented, with increased service
frequency and improved connectivity.
Simultaneously, we are working diligently with the region to secure additional dedicated local funding to grow.
Our road map is clear. We have the
right people in the right seats on the
right train to take us to the next level,
as we continuously keep the momentum
going for SACRT.
"Commentary" features points of view from
various sources to enhance readers' broad
awareness of themes that affect public
transportation.

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kgolden@apta.com
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APTA Officers

Doran J. Barnes, Chair
Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., Vice Chair
Kim R. Green, Secretary-Treasurer
Valarie J. McCall, Immediate Past Chair

Executive Committee Members-at-Large
Dorval R. Carter Jr., Chicago Transit Authority
Nuria I. Fernandez, Santa Clara Valley Transportation
Authority
Freddie C. Fuller II, CH2M
Donna P. McNamee, Laketran
Jennifer Mitchell, Virginia Department of Rail and
Public Transportation
Jeffrey A. Nelson, Rock Island County Metropolitan
Mass Transit District
Greg Percy, Metrolinx
Michael A. Sanders, Connecticut DOT
Patrick J. Scully, Motor Coach Industries
Carl G. Sedoryk, Monterey-Salinas Transit
Beverly S. Silas, Capital Metropolitan Transportation
Authority
David M. Stackrow Sr., Capital District Transportation
Authority
Jeffrey Wharton, IMPulse NC LLC
Charles R. Wochele, TransitConsult LLC

Acting President & CEO
Richard A. White

Pamela L. Boswell, Vice President, Workforce
Development and Educational Services
Mary Childress, Chief Financial Officer and
Vice President-Administration
Randy Clarke, Vice President, Operations and
Member Services
Linda C. Ford, Chief Counsel
Arthur Guzzetti, Vice President, Policy
Robert Healy, Vice President, Government Affairs
Petra Mollet, Vice President, Strategic and
International Programs
Rosemary Sheridan, Vice President, Communications
and Marketing


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11

Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 1
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 2
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 3
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 4
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 5
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 6
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 7
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 8
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 9
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 10
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 11
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 12
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 13
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 14
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 15
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 16
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 17
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 18
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 19
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 20
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 21
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 22
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 23
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 24
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 25
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 26
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 27
Passenger Transport June 2017 Vol 75 No 11 - 28
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