New transit system considered
Every time Dorothy Brewer, 85, wants to meet her friends at the senior center, she pays $2 to ride the Carson City Community Transit System.
“That’s $10 a week,” Brewer said over a lunch of meatloaf and mashed potatoes at the senior center Monday. “That’s not too bad, but I’d pay less if possible.”
Lower fares may not be too far away.
The city was recently designated as an urbanized area by the federal government when its population exceeded 50,000, and that means more money for public transit.
The city currently spends nearly $400,000 per year on the CCCT system. With the new urban designation, the federal government will boost that to $630,000.
The city is forming a new public transit plan which will include a fixed route on Highway 395 and part of Highway 50 with a lower fare, probably $1 to $1.50.
Seniors are the majority of the 3,300 people registered with the city’s current CCCT dial-a-ride paratransit system, so transportation planners converged on the senior center Monday to gather comments on the new fixed-route system.
Posterboards with maps and charts outlining city streets and population demographics filled the lobby. Seniors exiting the lunchroom stopped to ask questions about public transit and inform city planners of their most frequent destinations.
Brewer and her friends said they would use a new fixed-route system for shopping.
“I like to go to Wal-Mart and Gottschalks,” said Mabel Van Cleave, 85.
Others said they would take advantage of rides to Carson-Tahoe Hospital, grocery stores, city offices and recreational areas.
Paul Bauer, 87, said his son drives him to medical appointments. A new transportation route might change that.
“I would use public transportation if I could,” he said. “It would be less of a burden to my son.”
Van Cleave said her driver’s license expires in December, and she’s not sure if she will renew it.
“We don’t know how much longer it will be safe for us to drive,” she said, her friend Dexiy Griffin, 84, nodding in agreement.
The city’s current transportation costs $4 for the general public, $2 for people with disabilities and $2 voluntary donations for seniors.
As it stands, people must register to use the system and call CCCT at least one day before they need a ride.
But Carson City resident Virginia Krone, 63, said CCCT is unreliable and crowded. Two years ago, she tried using it for medical appointments when she had a work injury.
“Every time I called to make an appointment, they’d say ‘Sorry, we’re all filled up,.'” she said. “The system didn’t work very good.”
Richard Weiner, principal consultant with transit-planning firm Nelson Nygaard, said the new fixed system would supplement, not replace the current CCCT paratransit system, perhaps opening up more spots for people who need them.
CCCT would remain intact to supplement a new fixed route, but will only be available to people with proven physical limitations.
That’s 20 percent of Carson City’s population.
Weiner said before they come up with a solidified plan, the traffic planning firm needs to gather more information from other groups who would frequently use public transportation, including people with low fixed incomes and those without their own cars.
According to information gathered by Nelson Nygaard, 5,000 Carson City residents live in households that earned less than $20,000, and more than 6 percent of households do not own a car.
Weiner said the firm will hold several more open-house events, and formulate a plan in time for the city’s budget session in spring.
Contact reporter Robyn Moormeister at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.