JAC service gets financial boost for promotion | NevadaAppeal.com

JAC service gets financial boost for promotion

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Residents should expect to see and hear much more about Carson City’s fixed-route bus service than they have in the recent past.

Jump Around Carson, or JAC, received $70,000 from the Regional Transportation Commission to boost its name recognition through advertising and public relations.

In hindsight, members of the commission have said JAC was rolled out too quickly in October, and that more preparation probably would have resulted in more riders.

Regarding JAC, said Supervisor Shelly Aldean, who also sits on the RTC, “I don’t want to do anything prematurely again.”

The money will be used to create and pay for advertising, write press releases and inform the media, and give presentations and participate in an array of community events for a total cost of $64,250. JAC’s annual operating budget is $1.2 million.

Commissioners also added $5,750 to the budget for a banner to hang across downtown Carson Street and to have bus-line information translated into Spanish. And if special or additional promotions appear needed, the RTC could later approve them.

The work will be done by MacWest marketing and begin in conjunction with JAC’s first anniversary.

Identified as residents most likely to use the service are seniors; tourists and visitors; students and youths; Hispanics, both English- and Spanish- speaking; some disabled residents; people traveling to and from local businesses and Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center; and homeless or unemployed people seeking jobs or other services, according to Miya MacKensie, head of MacWest.

MacKensie and other researchers rode JAC buses – sometimes without identifying themselves as information gatherers – and found routes weren’t clearly marked, the bus-line literature was difficult to decipher and more benches and shelters were needed.

Now bus stops are more clearly indicated, and bus shelters can be found in the Wal-Mart shopping center and on the Western Nevada Community College campus. The next steps will be to examine the routes and stops, then create clearer written guides for riders, said Patrick Pittenger, transportation manager.

More seating and shelters are expected, but not every stop will be sheltered, said Larry Werner, city engineer.

JAC ridership is expected to reach roughly 26 percent of the 193,000 users expected during its first year, if the current average of more than 4,200 riders continues during August and September, Pittenger said.

It costs $1 a ride for adults and youth, and 50 cents for seniors and the disabled.

RTC commissioners passed on pricier plans that would have provided for parties on the buses and a celebration-awareness event at Wal-Mart. These types of added marketing efforts could have resulted in a program costing more than $127,000.

What the RTC will get from among the higher-cost suggestions is a JAC jingle that could be used on radio or TV. It is sung to the 1961 Ray Charles tune “Hit the Road, Jack”:

“Hit the road, JAC, and take it on down to home to school to work to play

“Hit the road, JAC, it’s the fun, easy way.”

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

By the numbers

Jump Around Carson

ridership numbers

Oct.: 4,131

Nov.: 3,201

Dec.: 3,400

Jan.: 3,489

Feb.: 3,466

March: 4,305

April: 4,252

May: 5,468

June: 5,514

July: 5,016

Average: 4,224

Source: Carson City Public Works