Carson City may boost bus ridership to Douglas

Carson City's bus system will take more riders to Douglas County under a new plan city officials hope will convince Douglas to help pay the city for the bus service.

Carson's bus system makes about 450 round trips a month to North Douglas County's Topsy Lane shopping center. The number of trips would not increase under the proposal, said city transportation manager Patrick Pittenger, but it would increase the number of people who ride to the area.

About 30 people ride to Douglas County on the bus system. Pittenger said he isn't sure exactly how many more people will ride after the change, but the increase won't overcrowd the buses.

The city's transportation commission wants to increase the number of people it carries and reduce the number of trips a Washoe County bus system makes because the commission could cut in half the $110,000 it pays Washoe County a year to run its buses in Carson City.

The Washoe bus system will continue to run in the city, but will cut certain services, like its nine trips a day to Topsy Lane.

Douglas County also pays for Washoe County's service, and Carson City officials that $13,000 a year should go to Carson City.

Carson City and Washoe County transportation commissions will talk about the proposal at an open house today. The Carson City commission will decide what to do about the proposal at its meeting Nov. 14.

The city has unsuccessfully lobbied Douglas County for months to help pay for the trips the city bus service takes to the shopping center.

Sharing the costs of the trips is "a matter of equity" and something the city could eventually demand, said Shelly Aldean, city supervisor and head of the city's transportation commission. She said the city runs a bus system to a place it loses sales taxes to and does not charge the government for the service. The right thing for Douglas County to do is help pay for a service it benefits from, she said.

The city estimates it pays $16,500 a year for the bus trips to Douglas County with most of the riders being Carson City residents going there to work or shop.

The city will not demand Douglas County pay for the bus service before it starts picking up where Washoe's bus service leaves off. Pittenger said "it's totally up to Douglas County" if it wants to give the city money.

Dan Holler, Douglas County manager, said Douglas might give the $13,000 or a portion of it to Carson City, but isn't sure what the county will do yet.

It could, for instance, replace RTC Intercity with its own service, the Douglas Area Rural Transit, according to Holler.

"I don't see it as a real big issue one way or another," he said.

The proposal is good for all governments involved, because all are "strapped" for money and will save funds with the system said Eric Ritter, a Washoe County transportation commission representative.

Carson City started its bus system in October 2005 and pays $450,000 a year for it. The system has 9,000 riders a month.

Call 887-7433 for details about the city bus system.


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