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GUEST OPINION: SmaRT Ride is a bad replacement for bus routes

SmaRT Ride
A SmaRT Ride van, shown during the launch of the program in Citrus Heights in 2018. // CH Sentinel

Guest opinion by Joy McNally–
I am very concerned with the upcoming Sacramento Regional Transit changes this September, mostly due to the idea that SmaRT Ride can fill in the gap.

Related: Major changes to SacRT bus schedules to affect Citrus Heights, region

Specifically, on a personal level, I am speaking of Route 24 which I ride to and from work five days a week. I also have been using SmaRT Ride since its inception — rather, I should say I have been trying to use SmaRT Ride… the problem being that response time for pickup is anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours.

I have tried to work within the system and schedule two hours in advance, only to have pick up time be listed at three hours. I have waited that long for a ride more than once.

I have kept documentation of canceled rides, because of 2-3 hour wait times when I have opted to wait for the bus or pay for Lyft.

This is my livelihood, getting to work each day. I question if I have to look for another job for the sole reason I cannot get to work on time.

At some level, RT is more than a mere business concerned with profit and loss — it is supposed to be providing a service to residents.

If I am just one person so impacted by this, what of my co-riders on Route 24, as well as other routes. What are we supposed to do? Leave jobs we’ve been with for years? Go on unemployment? Move, so we can walk to work? Seems like a lot to ask.

SmaRT Ride is not a solution! It is not dependable for getting to work at a designated time. Not only do you wait for hours, but once boarding, other riders will be picked up so there is no way of knowing your arrival time. Drivers learn route and drop-offs as they happen.

I feel as if I have been robbed of a valid dependable, timely way to get to work — only to be held hostage at the mercy of someone’s bad idea (SmaRT Ride) that rarely serves my needs.

Joy McNally is a Citrus Heights resident and regular rider of public transit.
The Sentinel welcomes guest opinions and letters to the editor from local residents. Click here to submit one.

*Editor’s Note: The Sentinel reached out to SacRT prior to publishing this guest opinion column and was informed that the average wait time for SmaRT Ride is 27 minutes. An agency spokeswoman also said “there have been instances of rides taking over an hour.”

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