The Regional Transportation Commission's big white-and-blue Pride commuter bus has that new car smell, without the gouging gas prices.
Hitting the highway and byways between Reno and Carson City this Tuesday will be three new 42-seat buses equipped with an Intelligence Transportation System.
This $330,000 bus, part of a $1 million investment, is so intelligent that traffic signals remain green for the buses when they're running behind schedule. This is called "traffic signal priority" and it's triggered by a small box in the upper right hand corner of the outside of the bus.
Pride is less polluting, has plush blue-speckled interior upholstery, and talks to passengers in the voice of Channel 8 reporter John Tyson.
"He is the voice of Pride," said Jim McGrath, the commission's public information officer.
Tyson says "stop requested" when a passenger pulls the yellow cord. The digital voice will also announce destinations and safety announcements.
Each of the new Pride buses is tracked by a satellite, which sends any vital information - such as an accident or mechanical problems - back to the transportation commission's dispatch headquarters in Reno. If the bus breaks down another one will be dispatched, McGrath said.
The driver can push a button and install the automatic snow chains, without even stopping the bus.
"If there's a snow delay or an accident, we'll know the schedule's off," he said. "We can dispatch another bus to make sure it stays on schedule."
Seven cameras are set up inside and outside the bus to discourage vandalism and other criminal acts.
The disabled lift is faster loading for seniors and disabled people on the go.
In about a year, McGrath said, passengers will be able to confirm destination times from their cell phones.
The driver of this new custom-made bus also has company e-mail at his finger tips and a panic button.
"And the bad guys won't know the driver pushed it until the good guys show up," McGrath said.
Even though Pride's weekly ridership was only between 400 and 500, McGrath estimates that these new buses will increase that dramatically. He said Carson City and Douglas County are growing areas and it'll only get busier.
The Carson City to Reno route is the last one operated by Pride after state budget cuts.
"It's got a lot more power and it's smoother," said driver Dave Allen, of Carson City.
"If they ran this thing earlier I'd take it to work."
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.
Pride buses are custom-designed 40-foot Gillig Phantoms made by the Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif.
Each bus will last a million miles, which is an average 12 years of service each.
Pride ridership ranges from 400 to 500 a week.
80 percent of the funding for the $330,000 buses came from the federal government. The rest was matched by the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Carson City and Douglas County governments.
$3 for adults.
$2 for youth.
$1.50 for seniors.
Rates will be increased on Aug. 28 to $3.25 for adults and $1.50 for youth.
Ticket books are also available.
For information on stops call Pride customer service at 348-RIDE.