The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announced today it has been honored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as the 2021 Outstanding Public Transportation System of the Year. This prestigious and highly competitive award recognizes organizations in the public transportation industry across North America whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation. This award is given to only one agency in each category of small, medium and large systems. To put this honor in perspective, winning the national Outstanding Transportation System of the Year award in the transit industry, is the equivalent of receiving the Oscar for best picture.
APTA is the leading force in advancing public transportation entities providing bus, rail, subway, ferry and paratransit services throughout North America representing over 1,500 public and private sector members, representing organizations not just in the U.S., but also Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. “I am thrilled to recognize the great work of SacRT. Winning Outstanding Public Transportation System of the Year is not just a recognition of what they have done this past year, but a culmination of their work to build a bigger and better system year over year. I heartily congratulate SacRT, Henry Li, his team, and all the drivers and operators for their work leading up to this award, and I know they are already looking ahead to ways they can keep building a transit infrastructure in Sacramento that will better serve the community and make their riders proud,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas.
SacRT was recognized for a number of initiatives that launched between 2018 and 2020 including, lowering fares, expanding service, completing a comprehensive route optimization; introducing one of the nation's biggest and most successful microtransit services; regaining the trust of city jurisdictions and reannexing transit services back into the SacRT district, implementing the nation's first fare-free rides for student program of its magnitude; and achieved double-digit ridership growth.
Over the last year, amid the unexpected challenges caused by the pandemic, SacRT was able to generate $12.8 million in operating surplus, staving off layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts, while maintaining service levels close to 100%, and secured over $366 million of federal, state and local funding for our Light Rail Modernization Project. Despite a 60% drop in ridership and farebox revenue during the peak of the pandemic, SacRT was still able to increase operating reserves by nearly 500% of the last five years.
The Outstanding Public Transportation System of the Year nomination was based on 12 different categories evaluating SacRT’s successes, including Safety; Diversity, Inclusion and Equity; Customer Service; Financial Management; Sustainability; Workforce Development; Marketing; and Community Relations.
“SacRT is thrilled to receive the highest industry honor from the American Public Transportation Association. This award belongs to the nearly 1,300 SacRT employees who through hard work, dedication and teamwork, have transformed this agency to become the best system in the industry,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li.
“During my tenure on the Board of Directors, I have watched SacRT’s historic turnaround with pride and admiration. Despite limited local funding, the agency has reinvented itself through a rejuvenated workforce, a renewed focus on customer service and by implementing a variety of new innovative service initiatives. I applaud the entire SacRT on this momentous accomplishment,” said SacRT Board Chair and Citrus Heights Mayor Steve Miller.
SacRT received the award for the category of public transit agencies with more than 4 million but less than 20 million trips. In 2019, APTA honored SacRT’s General Manager/CEO Henry Li with the equally prestigious Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year award.
SacRT will receive the award during APTA’s Transform Conference and Expo in November 2021. For more information on the APTA Awards, visit sacrt.com/APTAaward.