Sacramento RT Light Rail

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Sacramento RT Light Rail
Sacramento Regional Transit.svg
Siemens U2A in downtown Sacramento
Siemens U2A in downtown Sacramento
Owner Sacramento Regional Transit District
Locale Sacramento, California
Transit type Light rail
Number of lines3
Number of stations53 [1]
Daily ridership13,900 (weekdays, Q4 2021) [2]
Annual ridership4,058,100 (2021) [2]
Began operationMarch 12, 1987; 35 years ago (1987-03-12) [3]
Rolling stock
  • 15 min (weekdays)
  • 30 min (evenings/weekends)
System length42.9 mi (69.0 km) [1]
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead line, 750 V DC
Top speed55 mph (89 km/h) [1]
System map

Sac RT Light Rail Map.gif

Sacramento RT Light Rail is a 42.9-mile (69.0 km) light rail system that serves the Sacramento, California area. It consists of three rail lines, 54 stations, and a fleet of 96 vehicles. It is operated by the Sacramento Regional Transit District (RT). With an average of 13,900 weekday daily boardings as of the fourth quarter of 2021, the RT light rail system is the sixteenth busiest in the United States.


CAF light rail vehicle at St. Rose of Lima Park station

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (also known as simply RT) began planning for a light rail system in the mid-1980s, after the successful opening of the San Diego Trolley in 1981 and amid a surge in light rail construction in mid-sized cities nationwide ( Buffalo, Denver, Portland, and San Jose also built systems at the same time). [4]

The first line of the light rail system opened on March 12, 1987. Originally branded as RT Metro, [5] [6] the new line linked the northeastern and eastern corridors which both parallel Interstate 80 and Route 50 respectively with Downtown Sacramento. [7] More specifically, the "starter line" ran between Watt/I-80 and Butterfield stations. [8]

As light rail ridership increased, RT continued to expand the light rail system. In 1993, two infill stations were added on the existing RT Metro line: 39th Street and 48th Street. In September 1998, the line was extended from Butterfield station to Mather Field/Mills station. In September 2003, Sacramento Regional Transit opened the first phase of the South Line (now called the Blue Line), which was a 6.3-mile (10.1 km) extension to South Sacramento. In June 2004, light rail was extended from the Mather Field/Mills station to Sunrise Boulevard, and on October 15, 2005, a 7.4-mile (11.9 km) extension from the Sunrise station to the city of Folsom was opened.

Sometime in the late 1990s, the RT Metro branding quietly fell into disuse. It is now simply known as the RT light rail system.

In December 2006, the final leg of the Amtrak/Folsom project was extended by 0.7-mile (1.1 km), to the downtown Sacramento Valley Station, connecting light rail with Amtrak inter-city and Capitol Corridor services as well as local and commuter buses.In 2012, RT completed the first phase of the Green Line. The second phase of the line is planned to reach to the Sacramento International Airport. [9] In August 2015, RT extended service south to Cosumnes River College. [10]

Sacramento RT Light Rail ridership peaked at 16.8 million rides in 2008, but has declined to 9.7 million rides in 2018, a drop of 42% during that period. [11]



  • Blue Line: North Sacramento–Downtown–South Sacramento
  • Gold Line: Downtown–East Sacramento–Rancho Cordova–Folsom
  • Green Line: Downtown–River District


All routes operate every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes at night and on the weekend. [12]


The stations along the network are open-air structures featuring passenger canopies for protection from adverse weather. Twenty-six stations offer bus transfer services and 22 have park-and-ride lots with a total of 10,113 available parking spaces. [1]

The busiest stations in the system by average daily boardings/alightings are: 16th Street (6,800), University/65th (3,000), Cosumnes River College (2,900), and 29th Street (2,900). [12]

Works of public art included at several stations were developed as part of the RT Public Art Program, and represent an array of media including, mosaics, sculptures, metalwork and murals. Each was commissioned to incorporate an identity and sense of place unique to the neighborhood surrounding the station. [13]

Rolling stock

The LRV fleet is composed of cars from three different builders: 36 from Siemens-Duewag U2A, some of which have been in use since the RT opened; 40 newer ones delivered in 2003 from Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles USA (CAF USA), and 20 Urban Transportation Development Corporation (UTDC) cars purchased from Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and refurbished by Siemens. [3]

The fleet will be further augmented by at least 28 brand new Siemens S700 series low floor light rail vehicles starting in 2022 with plans to eventually acquire 76 units to replace the existing aging fleet as additional funding is secured. [14] [15]

Numbers Qty Built Manufacturer Model Notes
35 1 1912 American Car Company California car Restored historic electric streetcar, used for special events
101–126 26 1985–1986 Siemens–Duewag U2A
127–136 10 1990–1991 Siemens U2A
201–240 40 2002–2003 CAF USA S/200
301–320 20 1987 UTDC ALRV Purchased from Santa Clara VTA in 2004, refurbished by Siemens in 2015 [16]
TBD 28 2022–2023 Siemens S700 Delivery to be completed by late 2023 [17]

Future projects

Level boarding

With the acquisition of low-floor Siemens vehicles, the system's stations are planned to be reconfigured for level boarding. SacRT plans to start by converting 29 stations, with plans to convert all stations as funding becomes available. [17]

Green Line to Sacramento International Airport

The Green Line extension to Sacramento International Airport will extend service 12 miles (19.3 km) to the airport via the Natomas neighborhood. [18] [19] The line would extend northwest from the existing Green Line terminus at the 7th & Richards / Township 9 station. The plan to extend light rail to the airport has been in the works since early 1990s and is the project most requested by residents of the Sacramento region. [20] The agency has completed preparing the draft environmental impact report for the project. [21]

The project, estimated at nearly $1 billion, would be the costliest in RT's history and securing funding has been a challenge. [20] Transportation officials most recently proposed funding the project with a half-cent sales tax increase in Sacramento County, but the measure was narrowly defeated in November 2016.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "RT Fact Sheet" (PDF). Sacramento Regional Transit District. June 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2021" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. March 10, 2022. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Sacramento Regional Transit Light Rail Fact Sheet" (PDF). Sacramento Regional Transit. February 2008. Retrieved January 23, 2007.
  4. ^ Minister, R. David; Clarke, David J. (March 30, 1982). "Factors to Consider in Designing a Joint Bus-Light Rail Transit Mall" (PDF). Transportation Research Board.
  5. ^ "Connections: Sacramento Light Rail & Bus Schedules". The Sacramento Bee. March 22, 1987. p. 2.
  6. ^ "RT Metro Light Rail Timetable". Sacramento Regional Transit District. March 16, 1987.
  7. ^ "SacRT History". Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Light Rail map". Sacramento Regional Transit District. October 13, 1999. Archived from the original on October 13, 1999. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  9. ^ "Home". Green Line 2 Airport. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  10. ^ "RT Celebrates Grand Opening of Blue Line to Cosumnes River College Light Rail Extension". Sacramento Regional Transit District (Press release). August 22, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "Sacramento Regional Transit District (Sacramento RT)". National Transit Database. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "SacRT System Fact Sheet" (PDF). Sacramento Regional Transit District. July 2021. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  13. ^ "Art on Track – Station Art Along Light Rail" (PDF). Sacramento Regional Transit District. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 3, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
  14. ^ "SacRT Purchases New Low-Floor Light Rail Vehicles" (pdf) (Press release). Sacramento Regional Transit. April 2020. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  15. ^ "SacRT trains to get low-profile upgrade: Sacramento-built light rail vehicles part of system-wide modernization". Chico News & Review Spotlight. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "Siemens-refurbished light rail vehicles to begin operating on new Sacramento Regional Transit line". Siemens USA (Press release). September 8, 2015. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Arrington, Debbie (July 6, 2020). "SacRT trains to get low-profile upgrade: Sacramento-built light rail vehicles part of system-wide modernization". Sacramento News & Review. Retrieved July 8, 2020.
  18. ^ "Home". Green Line 2 Airport. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  19. ^ Sacramento RT website: "Green Line to the Airport" Archived May 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ a b Bizjak, Tony (January 7, 2015). "When will Sacramento get light rail to the airport? Not soon". The Sacramento Bee. ISSN  0890-5738. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  21. ^ "SacRT Initiatives". October 15, 2019. Retrieved April 15, 2021.

External links