New public transit buses add efficiency to city’s service
While neighboring jurisdictions are cutting public transit service, Carson City’s Jump Around Carson is updating its fleet to keep up with demand.
“BluGO has made cuts and Washoe RTC has made significant cuts,” said Carson City Transportation Director Patrick Pittenger.” We are a small system, but we are happy to be holding our own.”
The latest additions to Carson City’s fleet are four new buses paid for exclusively by $740,000 in stimulus funds.
“We need to regularly replace our vehicles, so we usually buy two a year and the government pays
80 percent,” Pittenger said. “But in this case, we bought four, and the total cost to us was zero, so we can use our dollars for operating costs.”
He said the transit service does not have a dedicated funding source, so money is usually transferred from the general fund, and he sets up the matches with the federal government.
“With the city budget so tight, on July 1 we were going to lose some funds, going from $300,000 this year to $275,000. There is just not enough money,” Pittenger said. “But this stimulus money allows us to hang on as long as we can.”
The new buses, which residents will be able to recognize because they are painted purple with green trim as opposed to the green with purple-trimmed older buses, are 35 feet long – about 10 feet longer than the existing buses.
Rider Susan Jones of Carson City hopped off a new bus at the transfer station on Plaza Street Thursday.
“I take the bus wherever I go and I know where they all go,” she said. “I ride it a lot and take care of all my business around town. There are a lot of people who take the bus, and the prices are right.”
The new buses will be used for the regular routes while the remaining older green buses with wheelchair lifts will eventually be used exclusively for JAC Assist, which is a pickup by appointment service offered by the city.
The new buses are lower to the ground and have a ramp that can reach to the sidewalk, so people in wheelchairs can load up much more quickly.
Bus driver Jack Shelton said the new buses were much more efficient.
“We can hold 35 passengers so as our routes grow, we can handle the larger passenger load,” he said.
Another big plus for the city is that the newer buses are expected to last 10 years – twice the lifespan of the smaller ones.
Pittenger said the city has received requests from nonprofits for the four buses that will be removed from the fleet, such as the Parks & Recreation Department and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“We’ll just give them to them; we’re happy to help,” he said.
That action is expected to go through the Regional Transportation Commission in June, he said.