Board members for the Washoe Regional Transportation Commission on Friday unanimously approved changes to local transit services effective Sept. 10. The changes are based on recommendations from the recently completed Transit Optimization Plan Strategies (TOPS) plan.
TOPS is a five-year plan that provides recommendations for improvements to RTC’s system for fiscal years 2023-2027. It was developed over the past two years with input from RTC’s board, in-person and virtual outreach events, and survey responses from more than 1,800 residents.
Over the next several years, based on suggestions in the plan, RTC may make changes to 80% of its routes, including adding more FlexRIDE service and increasing access to nearly 38,000 people in the community.
Jim Gee, an RTC planning manager that presented the TOPS plan and the coming changes, said improving the RTC’s technology and digital access for users is also in the works. That would include an improved mobile app with multimodal trip planning, payment within the app and real-time data on routes.
Improved technology will improve service and access for many of the region’s younger transit users, which RTC Executive Director Bill Thomas said is a goal.
However, he added, that in a world where people are more used to getting personal service and personal response RTC can’t provide that for the entire community based on its current budget.
“This plan I believe is reflective of what [the board] has said, which is ‘serve people,’ but in doing that it won’t necessarily mean that everybody gets the same kind of service,” Thomas said. “This plan is designed to serve more people…but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get exactly the service in the way they want it, which is virtually impossible to do when you have limited resources.”
Changes to RTC service starting Sept. 10 include:
- Discontinuing routes 2s, 3CC and 19, all of which haven’t run since January. Route 3CC was a loop route, with another route (3CL) operating in the opposite direction. It will be renamed to route 3.
- Route 5 has been modified to stop near the new Hug High School to provide access from Sun Valley to the school, and will also include access to the Winco on Northtowne Lane.
- Route 15 will speed the connection between Truckee Meadows Community College and downtown.
- Route 9 will be straightened out on its path along Virginia Street from Centennial Plaza station to Meadowood Mall, and on the north end of the route will include a stop at the Second Street Walmart.
- Route 13’s service will extend to the Social Security Service Administration building.
- FlexRIDE service will be expanded to offer travel for the new Spanish Springs Winco and, starting Aug. 20, between TMCC and the North Valleys.
- The Taxi Bucks program will be expanded so when users – limited to those over age 60, veterans and those who are disabled – put in $15 they’ll get $75 in taxi fare, versus $60 under the old plan.
- Consistent reservation hours for RTC ACCESS are set from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Other RTC news
Officials at RTC are asking for input on the Mill Street widening project, which would impact the area from Kietzke Lane to Terminal Way. Project details and a public comment area are available at http://millstreetwidening.com/.
Input is also requested as part of the Virginia Street Placemaking Study. The project, which is being led by the City of Reno, would impact the street design of Virginia Street from Liberty to Ninth Street. Details are online at https://www.reno.gov/community/placemaking-study.
RTC will offer free transportation on Routes 1, 11, Rapid Virginia Line and Rapid Lincoln Line Aug. 2-7 for Hot August Nights.
A TSA evaluation of the base security program for RTC resulted in a score of 96%, an increase from the overall score of 92% in 2018.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.