Why Transit and Rail

Learn how public mass transit and rail service delivers transportation
with benefits to the Sacramento Region

How can AFFORDABLE public transit options save money for you and your family?

Put Money Back In Household Wallets

Owning Cars Costs Money Everyone knows having a car means gas, insurance, and maintenance costs, too. In 2020, the American Automobile Association calculated the average cost of new car ownership at $9,651 per vehicle, or $804 per month.1 A robust transit system allowing a family to give up even one car would save a working family in our area about $8,500 per year.

Fewer family cars also translates to a reduced risk of traffic tickets and accidents & related costs.

Reclaim Time Spent in Traffic

Car Commuting Costs Time Sacramentans waste 59 hours per year stuck in congested traffic. Those gridlock hours cost an average of $1,022 per year per driver in fuel costs and lost wages.2

Reduce Family Transporting Burden
Families are Responsible for School Transport Several Sacramento area public school districts have eliminated or drastically reduced school bus services for tens of thousands of students.3 4 To fill the gap, parents are forced to work around their job schedules or pay for special arrangements to bring their kids to school.5 6
Increase housing values

Mother and sonHome Values Suffer Decades of residential sale data show that homes without access to public transit sell for less. Homes close to robust public transit have an increased value ranging from 4% to 24% over those that are not.7

How does a SAFE and HEALTHY transportation network benefit our communities?

Improve Public Health & Well Being

Car commuting is a barrier to physical activity. Hours sitting in a car and the inability to walk or bike to destinations contribute to physical inactivity and related health conditions. With safe places to walk & cycle, and with improved air quality, Sacramentans can enjoy outdoor exercise as well as a better sense of community and personal safety.

Increase Access to Essential Services & Products

Residents in low-income and under-invested neighborhoods lack access to critical health and daily needs. More than half of the Sacramento region’s residents live in “food deserts” or don’t have nearby full-service grocery markets, farmers markets, parks, or walking paths.8 Investing in transit options within and around such areas allows for better access to groceries & health care services, and provides safe routes to schools, libraries, recreation centers and parks for children and seniors.

Improve Air Quality. Reduce Spare the Air Days

Bike and busVehicle emissions are bad for breathing. Sacramento is fifth in a list of worst major U.S. cities for ozone pollution and 15th in the nation for particle pollution days.9 Traffic-related particulate matter & ozone are some of the largest contributors to unhealthy air quality. Fewer cars leads to cleaner air and better breathing.

Reduce Cyclist & Pedestrian Accidents

Getting around in the Sacramento region is dangerous. In California, Sacramento is ranked 10th for bicycle collisions, 6th for bicycle collisions for those under 15 years of age, and 7th highest for overall traffic fatalities and injuries.10 This is especially hazardous in low-income / disadvantaged neighborhoods where a high proportion of fatal and serious car & pedestrian crashes occur.11 Investment in Complete Streets principles helps make streets safe for everyone to use, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

How does a CONNECTED public transportation network benefit businesses and communities?

Improve Access to Work

Not everyone wants to use a car or can afford one. Reliable and accessible public transit networks support Sacramento region workers by getting them to and from jobs. Quality transit directly supports lower wage workers, essential workers, and workers of color.12

Create Local Jobs

Unemployment increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dollars spent on improving and expanding transit systems not only create construction jobs during the planning and building phase, but generate long-term employment in operations and support. Every $1 billion spent in transit investment generates almost 50,000 new jobs. Infrastructure projects can help re-employ Sacramento workers.13

Promote Small Business Growth

Disconnected neighborhoods miss out. Retail stores, small businesses, and community services can’t do their best if they’re hard to get to. Modest projects to improve sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, streetlights, and wheelchair ramps – like a recent one in Auburn’s Chamberlain neighborhood – facilitate access for customers & clients. Such right-scaled projects creating safe routes to small businesses and local transit can lead to growth and economic development.14

Support Sacramento’s Economic Future

NorCal Rail MapSacramento’s current transportation infrastructure doesn’t match its evolving economy. Like other areas across the country, Sacramento is moving to a more dynamic, knowledge-intensive economy that increasingly favors mixed-use development with strong transportation connections. It will need increased mobility and accessibility to job centers, community programs, capital, education, health care, and stable housing.15

Current rail capacity won’t handle projected growth. Recent forecasts indicate that without improvements, freight and passenger traffic growth on primary trade corridors of California’s rail network will result in bottlenecks, pushing more freight onto trucks, roads, and through communities.16 Rail network expansion moves more goods and will underpin the competitiveness of freight-oriented businesses in our region.

How does GREEN public transit and rail service benefit you and the Sacramento region?

Improve Air Quality & Public Health

SacRT Electric BusGas-powered cars & buses pollute Buses and light rail using newer diesel and electric power produce much less pollution per passenger mile than cars.17 Increasing Sacramento’s fleet of zero emission bus, rail, and shuttle options will reduce auto exhaust and smoggy air.

Reduce Sacramento’s Impact on Climate Change

Transportation contributes heavily to Greenhouse Gas Emissions In 2016, 57% of the City of Sacramento’s community-wide emissions of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) came from transportation, including single-occupant cars.18

The Sacramento Region must reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 19% by 2035 The California Air Resources Board established this 19% reduction goal, while Senate Bill 375 tasked metro organizations, like the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) with planning how to get there.19

A key strategy of SACOG’s plan for emissions reductions emphasizes the need for a variety of transportation modes, including mass transit and shared mobility services.20

The Mayor’s June 2020 Commission on Climate Change report recommends a carbon-zero target by 2045, including an increase of transit and pooled trips to 30% by 2030, and to 50% by 2045. The report’s mobility strategy includes expanding and improving transit and shared mobility services to be more accessible, affordable, timely, and attractive.21

How will an EQUITABLE & ACCESSIBLE public transportation network benefit everyone?

Improve Transit for underserved neighborhoods and populations

Transportation shouldn’t be an obstacle to fulfilling daily needs More than one-third of residents in the Sacramento region struggle to make ends meet. Analysis by the SACOG shows that the region’s lowest income households saw the largest percentage decline in household incomes during the recession, and recovery has trailed the national average. The share of struggling families is disproportionately concentrated in communities of color and individuals with lower levels of education.22

Ensuring all communities have access to effective transit options can help lead to economic stability for Sacramento Region families.

Promote Transit Access for Everyone

A diverse population has diverse transportation needs The regional population continues to age and by 2030, nearly one in five residents will be age 65 or older. Racial and ethnic diversity is expected to broaden during this time. To support and retain the region’s youth, the education and workforce development efforts should focus on jobs in mobility technologies and with mobility providers.23

Making individual mobility and accessibility a fundamental right of the general public and designing public transit with this principle in mind gives everyone access to participate fully in Sacramento Region communities.

Improve Mobility for Non-drivers

Woman with cane boarding busNot everyone can drive or wants to Youth, seniors, and people with disabilities that make driving difficult or impossible, may depend on public transit. Some want to use public transit rather than other forms of transportation.

Participation in the Sacramento community should be available to all.

Improving public mass transportation in the Sacramento Region – What does SMART say??


  • Invest in free or reduced transit fare for youth, low income, and people with disabilities.
  • Make public transport faster, cleaner, convenient, and more affordable. Tempt drivers out of their cars.

Safe & Healthy

  • Implement safe routes to schools, libraries, recreation & parks, shopping, food, groceries, health care.
  • Fund Complete Streets programs for safer places to walk & cycle. Make street space useable by all.
  • Embrace Vision Zero. Eliminate traffic injuries and fatalities, especially to pedestrians & cyclists.


  • Recognize individual mobility and accessibility as a fundamental right of all community members.
  • Prioritize under-resourced communities for transport hubs, more stops, & better route frequency.


  • Focus on first- and last-mile connections to link neighborhoods with jobs.
  • Improve neighborhood walkability and access to small businesses and local services.
  • Fund public transit options between incorporated cities and unincorporated counties.
  • Right-size rail service to account for growth in goods and passenger movement.


  • Align public mass transit projects with regional, state, and federal goals & policies.
  • Leverage transit & rail funding.
  • Invest in electric school and public bus fleets. Increase publicly available EV charging stations.
  • Adopt performance targets and align programs to meet emission and car-trip reduction goals.



  1. American Automobile Association. 2020. It now costs more than ever to own a car. AAA Daily. https://magazine.northeast.aaa.com/daily/life/aaa/costs-more-than-ever-to-own-a-car/. Accessed 3/1/2021.
  2. Texas A&M Transportation Institute. 2019. Mobility Division. Urban mobility report 2019. Congestion Data for Your City. 2017 delay per auto commuter. https://mobility.tamu.edu/umr/congestion-data/. Accessed 3/1/2021.
  3. San Juan Unified School District. 2021. Transportation. Frequently asked questions. https://www.sanjuan.edu/Page/482. Accessed 3/21/2021.
  4. Sacramento City Unified School District. 2021. Frequently Asked Transportation Questions. https://www.scusd.edu/pod/frequently-asked-transportation-questions. Accessed 3/21/2021.
  5. ABC News. 2016. Get Your Kids to School or Keep Your Job? Parents’ Stress Over Transportation https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/get-your-kids-school-or-keep-your-job-parents-stress-n632726. Accessed 3/21/2021.
  6. Lambert, D., Pullen-Seufert, N., Marchetti, L., Zegeer, C & Hillman, T. 2020. Safety-Based Prioritization for Youth Pedestrian Travel Planning. Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. Chapel Hill, NC. Referenced in http://www.visionzeroforyouth.org/take-action/. Accessed 3/21/2021.
  7. American Public Transportation Association. 2019. The real estate mantra – locate near public transportation. https://mk0aptacoma227k83f08.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/The-Real-Estate-Mantra-Locate-Near-Public-Transportation.pdf. Accessed 3/1/2021.

Safe & Healthy

  1. Phan, MyLynn and C. Wolf. Sacramento Food Deserts. 2020. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/0227b337c8364bedbd56547cbf9ef5a5. July 2020. Accessed 2/28/2021.
  2. American Lung Association. 2019. State of the Air 2019. Chicago, IL.
  3. Traffic Safety Data, 2018, California Office of Traffic Safety. Accessed 2/26/21.
  4. City of Sacramento. 2018. Vision Zero Sacramento Action Plan. August 2019. Sacramento, CA.


  1. Urban Institute. 2019. The unequal commute. https://www.urban.org/features/unequal-commute. Accessed 3/1/2021.
  2. American Public Transportation Association. 2020. Economic Impact of Public Transportation Investment. https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/APTA-Economic-Impact-Public-Transit-2020.pdf. Accessed 3/1/2021.
  3. Sacramento Area Council of Governments. 2020. The Current. https://www.sacog.org/news/bike-lanes-sidewalks-access-transit. Accessed 3/1/2021.
  4. Valley Vision. 2020. The Prosperity Strategy. The Greater Sacramento Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2020-2025. May 2020. Prepared on behalf of the Prosperity Partnership. Sacramento, CA.
  5. California Department of Transportation. 2018 California State Rail Plan. Connecting California. Sacramento, CA.


  1. American Public Transportation Association. 2008. Public Transportation Reduces Greenhouse Gases and Conserves Energy. https://www.apta.com/wp-content/uploads/Resources/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/greenhouse_brochure.pdf. Accessed 3/31/2021.
  2. City of Sacramento Climate Action Plan Update. March 2020. Appendix A – Community Inventory and Forecast Methodology. City of Sacramento. Sacramento, CA.
  3. Sacramento Area Council of Governments. 2019. Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. November 2019. Sacramento, CA.
  4. Sacramento Area Council of Governments. 2019. Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. November 2019. Sacramento, CA.
  5. Sacramento and West Sacramento. 2020. Achieving Carbon Zero in Sacramento and West Sacramento by 2045. Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change. Final Report. June 2020. Sacramento, CA.

Equitable & Accessible

  1. Valley Vision. 2020. The Prosperity Strategy. The Greater Sacramento Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2020-2025. May 2020. Prepared on behalf of the Prosperity Partnership. Sacramento, CA.
  2. Valley Vision. 2020. The Prosperity Strategy. The Greater Sacramento Region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2020-2025. May 2020. Prepared on behalf of the Prosperity Partnership. Sacramento, CA.