Shelly Benson has lived at the Carriage Stone Apartments on the corner of Virginia and Thoma streets for five years. Until recently, she lived in a second-story apartment with a westward facing balcony that provided her views of the Sierra.
“Because I’m losing my vision, I’m trying to see as much as I can before it’s totally gone,” Benson said. “I have less than a quarter of my right eye left. I have Stargardt disease.”
After realizing the bus stop would be in front of her unit, she relocated to the other side of the building—losing the view she held so dear.
“I loved my balcony, and in the summertime a lot of us up here would sleep with our sliding glass doors open and our bedroom windows open,” Benson said. “And the majority of us on this side of the building already have health issues.”
Benson said that when she initially saw plans for the project, the bus stops were not designated yet. The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC), however, said the bus stops have been planned for their current locations since the beginning of the project.
“I was in the office, and I inquired where the bus stops were—and they were not on the plan yet. And that was over two years ago,” Benson said.
She said residents began calling RTC to complain when the bus stop sign was placed in front of Carriage Stone a few months ago.
“And we already tolerate the cigarette smoke and the drunks, but now we’re going to have to be locked up and lose our fresh air because of the cigarette smokers, the marijuana smokers and the bus fumes—which isn’t right,” Benson said. “That’s elder abuse.”
They’re taking away our clean air. They’re taking away our privacy because the bus sits high enough for people to be able to see into our apartments, so they can come back later and take what they want. Then we’re losing our right to sleep because when the bus starts running more frequently, we’ll be listening to the brakes, the noise of the door, the noise of the ramp, the noise of the lift,” she said.
Benson said she doesn’t understand why the busses can’t stop where they used to, a short distance to the south in front of the Sticks shopping center.
“Our apartment complex has been here since 2006,” Benson said. “We have  units and  parking spots, so a lot of the residents would park along the street. Now we’re losing half of our parking right here.”
According to Benson, she was told by RTC that the management of Carriage Stone Apartments and its residents had requested the bus stop be placed in front of the complex. She said she’s asked both management and residents and been told that was not the case.
“Nobody from management, upper or myself, requested it,” confirmed Alisha McKinley, the property manager for the Carriage Stone Apartments.
RTC said in a statement to This Is Reno that it has received a total of two complaints from Carriage Stone residents, but McKinley said she’s heard from many residents in units on the west side of the building, all expressing their frustration at the placement of the bus stop.
But according to RTC Public Information Officer Lauren Ball, “Because the project design was finalized more than a year ago, the RTC is not able to change the bus stop location this late in the construction process. Moreover, the RTC cannot move it back to the previous location due to crosswalk-obstruction safety concerns and best practices for spacing between public transit bus stops.
“The RTC’s top priorities in this highly traveled, mixed-use corridor are safety, efficient traffic operations, and access for pedestrians and transit users.”
Ball also provided This Is Reno with a fact sheet containing information about why bus stops are placed in particular locations, as well as information about the bus stop in front of Carriage Stone Apartments.
“Industry standard for local bus stop spacing is [one quarter] of a mile apart, as well as across the street from the coupled bus stop to go the other direction,” according to the fact sheet.
The bus stop in front of Carriage Stone Apartments is one quarter of a mile from the one nearest it. According to the RTC, this spacing “also accounts for bus speed and travel time. If bus stops are too close together, people lose the convenience of taking the bus.”
Other safety considerations RTC cites for the placement of the stop include “not placing a bus stop on a corner, or on a hill, that hinders the bus driver’s ability to see cars behind it as it pulls out,” and making sure bus stops are placed on the far side of crosswalks ”to avoid the bus obscuring the view of both drivers and pedestrians in the crosswalk whenever possible.”