JAC ridership dips 24 percent during first month of paid service | NevadaAppeal.com

JAC ridership dips 24 percent during first month of paid service

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Ray Soloninka, 79, helps his wife, Barbara, 64, step off of a JAC bus at the Plaza Street transfer station on Nov. 28. Officials say bad weather and no bus shelters are keeping ridership numbers down during the system's first paid month of operation.

More than 3,000 people rode Carson City’s new bus system during November.

Jump Around Carson began operating in October for free and started charging passengers for the service in November. Roughly 4,000 people rode the bus at no charge from Oct. 3-31 during the service’s promotional period; 3,111 people rode the bus for a fee, said C. Michael Dulude, city transit planner.

The 24-percent drop in ridership on JAC from October to November was “somewhat expected,” Dulude said.

Bus services traditionally have a drop of about 15 percent when they switch from free to paid service. Adding to the ridership decrease: “the holiday season and the inclement weather,” he said.

It’s not that people use buses instead of walking when the weather gets cold, though some people do. People who depend on buses try to avoid going out when the weather is bad because there are few shelters for passengers waiting to board a bus. Only the PRIDE stops have shelters, Dulude said.

Route 3, which runs from Washington and Robinson streets to Carson Valley Plaza, received the highest number of riders. The second-most used route was to the new hospital site.

Recommended Stories For You

The fare is $1 for adults and youths while seniors, and disabled riders pay 50 cents. Monthly and 10-ride passes further reduce the cost. Purchasing passes, however, can be difficult because the only place where they are sold is at the JAC office, 3303 Butti Way. And the tickets are only available during business hours.

Riders should be able to buy passes from additional locations in the future, Dulude said. The city is working with the treasurer’s office and local businesses to set up additional sales sites.

Excluding money from passes, the system generated $1,800. JAC’s rider fares make up 15 percent of the operating budget. The eventual goal for the new system is 20 percent, he said.

Most transit systems in the United States aren’t profitable. Money made from rider fares comprises a small portion of most of these operation budgets. The rest of the money comes from various government entities, Dulude said.

“I like it,” said Carson City resident Cathy Gibson, a federal employee who rides JAC. She would like it even more if it ran later than 5:30 p.m. so she could use it to do shopping after work.

That likely won’t happen soon because ridership drops significantly after 3:30 p.m., Dulude said.

Residents can expect to see more printed material publicizing the new bus system in the near future. Up for discussion is how to include park-and-ride routing into the system.

And, if anyone is interested, JAC would gladly accept donations that could be used for such things as bus shelters. They cost about $7,000 each to construct, and no shelters are in JAC’s budget, Dulude added.

n Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1215.

By the numbers

Numbers and types of riders using the JAC bus system:

Adults: 1,226

Seniors: 876

Transfers: 662

Disabled: 251

Youth: 96

Source: Carson City

Development Services