A Jump Around Carson bus.
Carson City’s public transit service Jump Around Carson will retain First Transit as the system’s operator as members of the Regional Transportation Commission unanimously approved a new contract Aug. 16.
First Transit currently operates JAC, and the new contract for all fixed-route and paratransit services will begin Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2026. The not-to-exceed amount of the contract is about $4.48 million, with two one-year extension options for approximately $1.63 million each year. Any extension in the contract must be approved by the RTC and First Transit.
The first-year cost of the new contract is around $1.43 million, which will rise to about $1.56 million in the third year. The city’s budget for a new contract in fiscal year 2024 was estimated at $1.38 million, meaning a budget augmentation of just under $50,000 is needed.
According to transportation staff, federal grants are available for contract costs, though required local matches vary.
“Available General Fund transfer to the Transit Fund at the current FY 2024 level ($629,800 annually), anticipated farebox revenues (approximately $100,000 annually), the State’s Aging and Disability Services Division grant for senior bus passes (approximately $97,000 annually), and the state’s Division of Health Care Financing and Policy (DHCFP) grant for Medicaid-eligible ride reimbursement (approximately $42,000 annually) and various miscellaneous revenues (approximately $34,000 from advertising, auctions, donations) are expected to adequately cover local match requirements as part of the proposed three-year contract, as well as the continued program operation costs of fleet maintenance and JAC administration for the duration of the contract term,” reads a staff report.
Mayor Lori Bagwell, who chairs the RTC, said Aug. 16 that securing the same operator is a benefit to the community.
“I’m super excited, actually, to have continuity of employees and bus drivers. The fact that you have bus drivers is a reason to keep this company because that means they’re doing something right if they’re able to maintain bus drivers because that definitely is a national issue right now of bus drivers,” Bagwell said.
Lora Mallory, senior region director of operations for First Transit, told the Appeal the company is fully staffed in Carson with 18 employees.
“You’re fully staffed in drivers right now here in Carson,” Mallory said. “Nationwide, it is a struggle.”
Mallory added, “We’re excited to continue our partnership here with the Carson City community.”
JAC ridership has picked up since the COVID-19 pandemic, from 132,760 passenger boardings in fiscal year 2021 to 168,519 passenger boardings in fiscal year 2022.
Carson City Supervisor Lisa Schuette, who sits on RTC, described how she rode a JAC bus on Aug. 16 and obtained feedback from customers.
“Different folks I just asked, ‘tell me what your thoughts are,’” she said. “‘I like all the bus drivers. They’re all really good. They’re safe, secure and kind.’ That was a quote. ‘I’ve ridden buses all over and as far as public transportation goes, this is the best crew I know. I’ve never had better service.’”
For information about JAC, visit https://www.carson.org/government/departments-g-z/public-works/transportation/jac-jump-around-carson.