A new bus service between Carson City and Reno will start running Aug. 14.
The Nevada Department of Transportation is finishing a contract with Frontier Tours of Carson City to provide transit services between the two cities.
A chance for daily trips comes as welcome news to people like George Mayes Jr. who must depend on others to get around.
Mayes is visually impared, losing much of his sight to retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease. He recently started a new career in Carson City with the Employers Insurance Co. of Nevada, but he lives in Sparks and relies on co-workers to help with the commute. For him, being able to catch a bus to work will help restore a bit of his independence.
"This is a big issue," Mayes said. "Moving here from the Southeast where you can catch a bus every five to 10 minutes - this is such a different phenomenon. There are a lot of people who work in both Carson City and Reno, and I really feel it's going to create great access for people once they start using it.
"I'm hoping this will work. As big as our cities are getting, it's time to have a mass transit system."
A one-way ticket on Public Rural Ride, or PRIDE as the system will be called, will cost $3 to get anywhere, less for seniors and possibly youth, said Sandi Stanio, state transit coordinator. Rates and routes are still being finalized.
The Washoe County Regional Transportation partnered with the state and Carson City to fund and administer the program. Stanio said she hopes the service will work, drawing people tired of the daily commute and allowing area residents access to health care, shopping, recreation and employment opportunities in urban areas.
The bus service will target drive times of 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
David Jickling, public transportation principle planner for Washoe County RTC, said 10 round trips Monday through Friday are expected with Carson City stops at Wal-Mart, the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation offices on Stewart Street, the Library and Archives on Stewart Street, next to the Carson Nugget on Robinson Street, a stop near Safeway on Carson Street near Hot Springs Road and a Carson Street stop at Kmart.
Buses will continue with a stop at Meadowood Mall and the National Bowling Stadium, and all riders will be able to transfer to Washoe County's Citifare system at no cost.
Stanio said she is working with Carson City Community Transportation to provide door to bus stop service in Carson City.
Douglas County pulled out of a deal to let Washoe County administer the transit extension south of Carson City. Stanio said Douglas County and the state have come to an agreement and within maybe two months, Douglas County will be connected with the Carson City to Reno system.
Stanio said the state is getting ready to bid routes along both Interstate 80 and Highway 50. The state will run the Highway 50 corridor, which will connect Virginia City and Lyon County from Silver Springs to Dayton to Carson City, and the I-80 corridor, which will connect Lovelock and Fernley to Reno.
Frontier Tours bid four, handicap-accessible buses for $393,835 to provide the service for a year, bidding lower for the service than Paratransit Services, the only other operator to bid for the route.
Jickling said the bid covers 7,300 hours of service and to make the service work, he expects between 200 and 300 riders daily.
"There are 5,000 commuters between the two cities daily. We're looking to capture a 228 passengers per day," Jickling said. "That's a pretty conservative average. If we can do that, we'll be successful."
The state received $840,000 federal money to be used over two years as part of the federal welfare to work program that will fund the program.
Stanio said the funding for the program is for two years, whether people use it or not.
"I hope we get a lot," she said. "I'm anxious to see how many people ride. It will operate for two years, even with only 10 people riding it. We're being optimistic. We think people will love to give the driving to someone else."
A.R. (Bob) Fairman, president of Budget Chauffeur Drive, operates No Stress Express a daily service from Douglas County, Lake Tahoe and Carson City to the Reno-Tahoe Airport. Fairman said he doesn't think the state service will work. One of six daily trips to Reno on No Stress Express costs $31 per person, one way, and Fairman said his service barely pays for itself.
"People will still not get out of their cars to use it," Fairman said. "I wish them all the best in the world. We need a system, and I'm glad the public is getting something they finally might use. But looking at it, I just don't think they'll get the ridership."
Fairman said he didn't think the new service would affect his business.
Greyhound also offers four trips daily to Reno at $12 per person, one way.
arson City stops:
- Library and Archives
- Carson Nugget
- Meadowood Mall
- National Bowling Stadium
- Connections to Washoe's Citifare system at no extra cost
Frequency: 10 runs a day Monday through Friday
Future route: Silver Springs-Dayton-Carson City
- Cost: $3