Council approves Stage Line transfer to SacRT

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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The Folsom City Council unanimously approved an annexation agreement to transfer the Stage Line to the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) during Tuesday’s, Nov. 13, meeting.

Folsom Public Works Director Dave Nugen introduced the item, which was previously discussed during the Oct. 23 meeting. The item was brought back to Council after residents’ concerns about the transfer were addressed.

The City of Folsom owned and operated the Folsom Stage Line and provided intra-city transit services to the public for many years. SacRT has been working collaboratively with the city throughout the past several months to explore annexing the stage line’s services into the larger SacRT system, according to a city staff report.

SacRT operates public transit services, including but not limited to bus and light rail in the Sacramento region, and the City of Folsom is a member of SacRT. SacRT brought the light rail to Folsom in 2005 and in June of this year, extended the hour of operation to night service. Currently SacRT is working to increase light rail service frequency to and from Folsom to every 15 minutes.

“By Annexing into the SacRT District, Folsom will benefit from SacRT’s transit expertise as the largest public transit provider in the region,” the staff report said. “SacRT’s economy of scale will result in improved operational and administrative efficiencies that will benefit riders, save money and allow the region to become more competitive for grant funding in the future.”

Initial plans for the Folsom Stage Line will be to operate at the same level of service and at the same cost to the rider as today. Over time, and as Folsom’s public transit grows, Folsom residents will benefit from expanded services available through SacRT, including high frequency bus services, microtransit on-demand bus service and SacRT’s fleet conversion to zero emission vehicles.

As a part of the agreement, there will be no negative impact to current riders in terms of service. According to the report, there won’t be any short-term plans to make changes to current bus service, Stage Line branding or fares. All current Folsom transit staff will be offered similar positions with SacRT.

On Oct. 10, the City of Folsom and SacRT hosted an open house forum for community input and questions, which was well-attended.

During the Oct. 23 meeting, many transit riders were concerned the level of service would drop once transferred to SacRT because they rely on Dial-A-Ride and public transportation to get around the area. Dial-A-Ride is a curb-to-curb transportation service that provides residents with disabilities special means of commuting within the Folsom City limits.Many of the concerns were more focused on Paratransit, Inc., which is a transit service in Sacramento, unrelated to the City of Folsom.

Nugen, Mayor Steve Miklos and SacRT General Manager Henry Li reassured concerned residents that the Dial-A-Ride service would not change, and if anything, there would be enhancements in the future, but nothing in the short term. Still residents were not for the item being passed.

On Oct. 30, SacRT held another open house to address all concerns and answer all questions. Li said during Tuesday’s meeting that they were able to talk to every single concerned resident and answered their questions until there were no more concerns.

After a handful of requests to speak, it was clear all were in favor of the annexation and were looking forward to it.

Miklos thanked Li for all the work he has done to help move the annexation along.

Council Member Kerri Howell echoed Miklos’ comments.

Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon was one of the Council members who wanted to postpone the item during the Oct. 23 meeting, and said he was happy they did. He said there is no problem with delaying something to make sure it is right, and he is convinced this annexation is the right thing.

Council Member Roger Gaylord said he received various emails after the previous meeting with many thank you notes.

Council Member Andy Morin said he was confident that all the concerns would be addressed and is happy the annexation is moving along.

Howell moved the item for approval with a second from Miklos. The item was unanimously approved.

The effective date of the annexation is proposed for Jan. 1, 2019, and at that point, the Transit Fund, which is maintained by the city, will be closed and all remaining transit-related revenues, assets, liabilities and fund balances will be transferred to SacRT.