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County takes cautious first step towards public transit

Following a discussion regarding the definition of the word “free,” the Nye County Commission cautiously gave the green-light to the NyE Communities Coalition Transportation Committee to pursue a grant with the goal of bringing public transit to Pahrump.

A presentation by NyE Communities Coalition Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Albert Bass to the County Commission on Jan. 20 raised questions regarding the need for a financial commitment by the county which is strapped with a $2 million budget shortfall.

Disputed by Commissioner Dan Schinhofen was the necessity and viability of a public transit system. Schinhofen likewise pointed out that the correct lead agency should be the county’s Regional Transportation Commission, not the board of commissioners.

Though no verbal comments were offered, a substantial number of residents were present. When asked by Commissioner Butch Borasky who was in favor of public transit, nearly every member of the public raised their hand.

The coalition will pursue a grant through the USDA Rural Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program to implement a six-day, three-phase, fixed and demand response bus route in Pahrump.

The commissioners said they will support the coalition in the grant process. However, Schinhofen said that the county will not make a financial commitment.

Several potentially problematic issues were flushed out in discussion of the multi-year implementation plan, including the requirements of the specified grant. The grant to be pursued by the coalition is available to “inner cities” with a population of 50,000 or less.

In contrast to Bass’ assertion regarding the grant that there is “No cost and no match.

It is completely free,” the grant does require a 40-percent match for operating assistance, a 20-percent match for administrative assistance and a five-percent match for capitol assistance.

The coalition’s assessment breaks down 9,000 service hours to be offered to the public at a cost of $715,000. Of that amount, he said Federal Transit Administration Funding would cover approximately $480,000. The remaining costs will be sought through grants, advertising and private business support.

The county, Bass said, will be required to contribute in-kind services rather than an outlay of cash for the match.

The proposed service includes mini-buses that carry 14-to-18 passengers with a fixed route that would travel Basin and Wilson roads, Calvada Boulevard and Route 372 and 160. A pre-scheduled route would also be available. Bass said the fare would likely be between $1 and $2.

The announcement of the commission’s tentative approval was met with applause by those in attendance.

Schinhofen announced that a similar presentation and discussion will be included at the next regional transportation commission meeting Feb. 17 at 8:30 a.m., at the county commission chambers located at 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive.

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