A nonprofit social service group is exploring ways to bring public transit back to Storey County.
Dr. Katherine Souza, a psychologist with Community Chest Inc. of Virginia City, said the group will begin with a survey circulated around the county to see if residents were interested in using public transit.
She said she got the idea from Linda Adams, of Dayton, who has begun a drive to get public transit in Lyon County. She said she was unaware that Virginia City used to have a bus.
"I don't know any of the history," she said. "I just know that people who are stuck without transportation would appreciate it."
She has begun circulating a survey similar to the one Adams started, to see how many Storey County residents would like to see public transit and how many would actually use it.
If it looks like there is enough interest, Souza said, the group would pursue funding and begin planning, first a shuttle offering trips to Dayton, Carson City, Mound House, and Reno.
"People could use it to get to doctors appointments, work, to buy groceries," she said. "This is just the very beginning."
She said when she gets enough surveys returned, she would like to call a meeting to generate ideas and go from there.
"There's a need, and hopefully there's some funding and support from local nonprofits and businesses," she said.
However, Storey County's previous experience with public transit didn't attract much local use, according to Carl Kuttel, who said the small operation was limited to Virginia City.
During its five-year run, from 1997 to 2002, it took residents and tourists alike around the small town, saving them the trouble of walking up and down the steep hills.
"Locals didn't use it," he said.
Kuttel said it would be difficult to run a bus operation today with high fuel and insurance costs.
"I don't know any that can operate on the funds they generate," he said. "Most need some kind of taxation."
Marilou Walling, Storey County's administrative officer, said there was probably a greater need for public transit in the Lockwood area in the north end of the county than there was in Virginia City. Resident Shirley Miller agrees.
"There are a lot more kids out here now, who could get to entertainment and jobs in Sparks," Miller said.
Walling administered a Nevada Department of Transportation grant that brought the last bus service and said the county ended up on the short end of the stick.
"We had a regional transportation commission, with a citizen and two commissioners," she said. "We got money from NDOT, but they owed us close to $100,000 that we were never able to further collect."
She said the service was phased out because of a lack of funding.
"It did well in the summertime, but not great numbers," she said. "It was a great service for our visitors and some of our seniors. I would love to see it back; it was a great service."
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.
To obtain a public transit
survey, call Community Chest Inc. at 847-9311.