While ridership on the PRIDE bus dropped after two weeks of free service, more people are riding the bus this week than bus officials expected.
David Jickling, public transportation principal planner for the Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission, said an average of 160 people a day have ridden the bus since Monday, which marked the first day riders were charged for the weekday bus service between Carson City and Reno.
There were 2,477 riders in the second week of service, 850 riders more than the first week's 1,627 riders.
While the service is funded by a federal welfare to work grant and $100,000 of Washoe County RTC money, Jickling said the service needs an average of 166 riders a day for the service to pay its end of the bill. Jickling said he had hoped to see at least 100 riders a day the first week, rising to 150 riders a day by the third month.
"The use of the service has exceeded my initial expectations," Jickling said. "We had more people ride it when it was free than I thought would ride it. Those were mostly sightseers and seniors. The people who are remaining and using the service are commuters."
Jickling said if 766 people rode the bus daily, no public subsidy would be needed. With ridership exceeding expectations, however, Jickling said there may be a savings that could be applied to adding new services to the route. He said he's had requests for buses to stop at the Reno/Tahoe International Airport.
A one-way ticket on Public Rural Ride, or PRIDE as the system is called, will cost $3, $1.50 for seniors and the disabled and $2 for youth under 18.
Riders transfer to Washoe County's Citifare system at no cost. Rides on Citifare generally cost $1.25 per ride. Carson City Community Transportation provides a free PRIDE connector for door-to-bus-stop service in Carson City. Riders need to call the community transportation office 24-hours in advance at 887-2323 for a ride. Riders who plan on riding at the same time daily, can call for a subscription service to be picked up daily.
The bus runs Monday through Friday except on major holidays including Labor Day. It is aimed at drawing people tired of the 60-mile Carson to Reno commute as well as allowing area residents access to health care, shopping, recreation and employment opportunities in urban areas.
Beginning next week, riders on the first four morning PRIDE runs will get a free coffee mug, coffee from Capitol Blends and a newspaper, the Nevada Appeal on the Carson to Reno route and the Reno Gazette-Journal on the Reno to Carson route, as part of the RTC's Read. Ride. Relax promotion of the service.