SacRT and AmeriCorps team up

AmeriCorps volunteers are handing out free masks to Sacramento transit riders. Photo courtesy of SacRT

by Allen Pierleoni

Sacramento Regional Transit District is always finding innovative ways to better serve its ridership and the community.

For instance, as a walk-up to last November’s general election, it partnered with Sacramento County and the Sacramento Kings for “Drive the Vote,” providing free transport to vote centers and ballot drop-box locations.

And SacRT’s “RydeFreeRT” program invites students to enjoy free passage aboard all of its transit services, benefiting more than 220,000 young people in the Sacramento region.

Now SacRT has teamed with AmeriCorps NCCC, the national volunteer-based society specializing in public service work. The joint program helps promote the federal mandate that requires passengers to wear face masks or coverings while they’re waiting at light rail stations and bus stops and while onboard any SacRT vehicle.

Free masks are available at SacRT’s Customer Service and Sales Center, key transit centers and stations, and on trains and buses upon boarding.

Getting a jump on that is AmeriCorps’ “Red Five Team,” five volunteers who hand out masks, other personal protective equipment and educational materials to SacRT riders. They also help with other SacRT outreach, such as pop-up events, surveys and social media. The program will run through mid-May.

“Because of COVID, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for young people to serve society right now, or feel like they’ve been involved in any kind of social solution over the past year,” says Quinn Walker, community relations specialist for AmeriCorps.

“AmeriCorps is one of the few service programs that’s been able to function during the pandemic,” Walker says. “The team members are getting a unique experience by supporting SacRT, one that gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.”

SacRT has become much more than a transit agency during the pandemic, Walker points out. “It has become an essential community service in health and social services, transporting essential workers and at-risk groups. AmeriCorps members are part of that process and do that crucial work in real time. They’re able to help make sure that SacRT riders are as safe as possible.”

The Red Five Team is part of the 324 AmeriCorps members, ages 18 to 26, serving out of the Sacramento Regional Campus in McClellan Park. The membership is formed into teams of five to 10 and travel to projects throughout the Western United States.

The Red Five Team is dividing its time between helping SacRT and serving at the Yolo County Food Bank.