Community leaders reaching for youth transit system

For some Carson City children, transportation to extracurricular events is a luxury.

For about three years, the Community Council on Youth has tried to start a youth transit system that would provide free rides after school to transport children to different activities.

"The success and failure of our programs depend on transportation for youth," said Cathy Blakenship, executive director of the Boy's and Girl's Club. "(The groups under the youth council) see that there is so much need for young people to get involved in something, and we try to provide exciting, fun activities. A lot of kids just don't have a way to get there."

Working with Carson City Community Transportation, council members have planned routes for the system. City supervisors even gave the group $15,600 start-up money in 1998 to help get the program going.

City transit officials are trying to find money to run the program, buses to transport the children and iron out the program's details.

Carson's recently established Public Transit Advisory Committee is the most recent player in the cause, and Thursday members looked at drafts of a business plan for the youth transit system. The committee's recommendation: bring us another draft.

The draft plan offered a brief history, goals and strategy of the transit plan.

Supervisor Kay Bennett chairs the advisory committee and told youth council representative Barbara Singer the plan needed to include summer program hours and needed to consider charging a fee to users.

"With potential funding we need to think bigger," Bennett said. "We need to develop a workable plan that addresses needs. There's a strong inclination on the part of the city to make this work."

Community Transportation General Manager Marc Reynolds reported the $15,600 the council had would pay for maybe 10 weeks of transportation. Bennett said the city is considering buying two, used 35-passenger buses from Reno's transportation system. How the buses will be paid for is undetermined right now, she said, but the program's future is tied to their acquisition.

The advisory committee is looking towards state funding and grants to help fund the program.

The youth council already had an school-year operations plan which put two buses to work four days a week from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Boy's and Girl's Club was the hub of the operation and routes are planned to got to places like the Brewery Arts Center, the Carson City Library, Western Nevada Community College, Governor's Field, Edmonds Sports Complex and several other locations. Getting caught in the process is frustrating to some council members, who've worked over the years to bring the youth system to a public-transportation hindered Carson City.

"You don't want to go to the board of supervisors and ask for money then not do anything with it," Blankenship said. "It makes it hard to go back and ask for more money. We spent a year in planning, and we're getting tired of sitting. We don't want to be wasteful."

Youth council representative Barbara Singer said it was hard to keep trying to move forward, but never get over the little stumbling blocks. Despite the delays, she said she still has hope that the system will work eventually.

"We need transportation for the kids. We need to keep going," Singer said. We need to work together for the kids.".


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