Reno Rides Free on Dump the Pump Day - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Reno Rides Free on Dump the Pump Day

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On a perfect-weather Thursday, Marilyn Logan waited for her next ride, an especially sweet ride…they've been free all day. Before her next bus arrived, she told us, "I've been out at Meadowood Mall and back again, and to the library and back again. Now I'm going home!"

Reno’s bus system has come a long way. Over 100 years since streetcars serviced downtown, we're now riding air conditioned, Wi-Fi equipped flex-buses, from a bus center that looks like a mini airport...all providing a real need. Bob Mulvey was one of many who told us how they depend on them: “I’m partially disabled, I've got bad knees, so this works out well for me to get around town."

There have been stumbles to get this far. After a series of small private bus companies, the RTC system, first known as “Citifare”, began in 1978 with its first bus. By 1980, they had a fleet of 25. From a handful of streets downtown, they now cover 60 square miles...now running over 70 buses. The real growth happened over the past 15 years, when the city and the RTC got together on ways to improve our public transit.

Riding with us on the Sierra Spirit, the RTC’s Joe Harrington told us that growth is still happening: “Our community has been expanding and growth continues here. And nowadays, we're seeing millennials prefer to use transit. It’s their preferred mode to get around." Mainly to save money, and today the RTC played on that strength by taking part in "Dump the Pump Day”, a national movement to introduce people to public transportation with free rides. Brian Maurer visited all of Reno at no cost: “This is my second. I've got one more trip. I'm going to do 3 times today. My boss is in Florida, I got the day off, so taking advantage of the free rides."

And the buses…are going in the right direction. Routes have been added. Harrington told us, "One of the more recent services we added was holiday service to Lake Tahoe. The public told us it’s something they wanted."

He says there's still much more they'd like to do…they're expecting a flood of new customers. "We expect the senior population in this county will grow 70% by 2035, and these people are going to need transit to get around."

As for what routes need to be added, there's no shortage of armchair RTC CEO's. Back at 4th Street Station, Marilyn told us if it were up to her, “There's not one bus that goes all the way down Kietzke. I’d like to see that." And that was all we had time for. Marilyn's next ride was here. The doors swung open and driver told her, "Hello dearie!" Marilyn got onboard, without opening her purse.

RTC plans on more public input sessions to develop better routes and schedules. For that, we say…enjoy the ride.

-written by John Potter

 

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