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Transit system on commission agenda

Christy Chalmers

Douglas County administrators are five vans and $275,000 away from finding out how many Carson Valley residents will use a public transportation system.

The vans have been ordered and county leaders will approve a grant application Thursday for nearly $275,000 to provide weekday transportation for Douglas County residents outside of Lake Tahoe for a year.

The grant, provided by the state, will provide two years of funding totalling almost $550,000. The money will pay for seven full-time drivers, a transportation coordinator and increasing a current part-time office assistant job to full-time.

“It will mean a substantial increase in the transportation services in and around the Carson Valley,” said Community Services Director Scott Morgan. “It’s really an expansion of the existing system.”

Currently, the senior center provides its clients with rides to appointments and the senior center. A growing senior population means a higher demand for that service, but disabled people and residents who don’t have vehicles also need rides.

The service will complement a regional transportation system the state is developing. That system will also use buses and vans to transport riders on the Highway 395 corridor between Reno and Minden and along Highway 50 from Carson City to Silver Springs.

Morgan said the county service will operate five days a week, probably from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be a combination of “on-demand” service, in which riders can make an appointment to get to and from their destinations, and fixed-route service. Morgan said seniors and the disabled will probably be asked for donations, while others will pay a to-be-determined fare, possibly in the $2 to $5 range.

“We have no idea how many people will use it. We know there’s a need for it,” said Morgan. “Everybody sees this as a real benefit.”

The vans could start running by the end of the summer. They have been ordered and the state has guaranteed funding for two years.

“Assuming we get the funding, we’re in action,” said Morgan. “As soon as we get the cash and the vans, we’ll be on our way.”