Public transportation plans unveiled for Lyon County

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YERINGTON - Catch the bus in Dayton and go anywhere in the world.

That's the vision state transportation officials unveiled for Lyon County commissioners recently.

Nevada Statewide Traffic Coordinator Sandi McGrew-Stanio said service along Highway 50 East, between Carson City, Silver Springs, Fallon and Lovelock; and I-80, from Reno, to Fernley, Fallon and Lovelock, will be going out to bid in October and service should be in place by late fall.

The startup program is the third phase of a regional public transportation plan for rural northwest Nevada.

The first phase included the recently initiated PRIDE service between Reno and Carson City. The contract and schedule for the second phase - to Douglas County - is being finalized.

After the Highway 50 routes, the next step will be to add connections to Yerington, Mineral County and Lake Tahoe.

Those living along Highway 50 East can look forward to stops in Silver Springs, Stagecoach, Dayton and possibly Smith's Market .

"This is one of six rural regional programs throughout the state. Our goal is to connect rural Nevada to the cities and to work places," McGrew-Stanio said. "We want to capture the commuter."

The startup program is being funded from approximately $3.2 million in federal and state transportation money, including $300,000 from the 1999 Nevada Legislature.

McGrew-Stanio said it was the first time state funds have been set aside for public transportation.

"I hope to be able to go back in 2001 and show them what we have done and see if we can get guaranteed funding from the Legislature so the program can continue and we don't have to worry. That is our goal."

McGrew-Stanio said $2.3 million of the federal funding ($848,000 in 1999 and $1.5 million in 2000) is "one shot" money and must be spent over a period of two years.

McGrew-Stanio is also working on the formation of a Northwest Transit Coalition, a private nonprofit alliance to include representatives from Carson City and Douglas, Storey, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Churchill and rural Washoe counties.

Through an interlocal agreement, the coalition will take over from the state as administrators/operators of the region's public transportation needs and as funding grantee.

"It is still in its infancy, but this is what the three task forces (Highways 50, 395 and I-80) suggested as the best way to administer the program without burdening the county governments," McGrew-Stanio said. "We hear local governments acknowledge a need for public transportation services, but they also say they need help with creating the infrastructure."

There is no general public transportation system in Lyon County. Existing transit services are primarily linked to particular groups, such as senior services. McGrew-Stanio is working with County Human Services to establish connector services to the fixed bus routes.

"We knew we would need connector services to get riders to and from the bus stops, for workers and for the elderly and disabled. We want to discourage people from driving to and parking at the stops," McGrew-Stanio said. "Using local agencies, riders can call a prescribed number for transportation to their final destination."

McGrew-Stanio said officials are also working on coordinating scheduling to provide transportation to and from after-hours school activities for Silver Springs area students attending Fernley High School.

Watching the final stages of the process coming to fruition, McGrew-Stanio lauded the assistance of cooperating government agencies and officials.

"I credit the involvement of government on the task forces. We are still a small state and communication is still very easy and open. We don't have the cumbersome size of other states yet," McGrew-Stanio noted. "I can speak directly with department heads and agency chiefs, even the governor. They have all been very cooperative."

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