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Free bus passes offered to seniors

by F.T. Norton
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealNorma Wohlt boards a JAC bus Tuesday afternoon at Washington and Plaza streets. The city offers free bus passes to senior citizens, which Wohlt says, "I couldn't do without it."
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While thousands of seniors have taken advantage of the free bus passes offered by the city since October, hundreds more are still paying the 50 cent fare, said Carson City Transportation Director Patrick Pittenger on Tuesday.

“All senior citizens, ages 60 or over, can ride unlimited regular JAC bus routes,” said Pittenger. “They just have to go to the Senior Center and get a free bus pass.”

Pittenger said the program is funded through the Division of Aging Services and comes from annual payments the state receives from tobacco companies.

Nevada receives about $50 million a year from the tobacco industry to cover the medical costs to the state of tobacco-related illnesses.

The Millennium Scholarship is another program funded by tobacco money.

In October when the passes were first handed out, JAC buses logged 2,700 rides using the passes. Another 700 trips by seniors were paid, said Pittenger.

“We’re actually getting more money from the grant than we were getting from the seniors, so these passes also help our budget a little bit too,” he said.

The passes are only available from the Senior Center, 911 Beverly Dr., and can not be picked up at other locations where bus passes are sold like City Hall or Western Nevada College.

The Senior Center, however, does sell other types of bus passes, said Pittenger.

People wishing to have a free senior pass need only provide proof of age and their bus fare is free for an indefinite period of time.

“We’re encouraging people to come and get their free pass. Of course we can’t make anyone get a free ride. If they want to pay, we’ll take their money,” he said. “But anyone can walk in the door of the Senior Center and get a bus pass ” even if you’ve never been the senior center and you’ll never go back again.”

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.