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NDOT puts focus on rural public transit

Updated July 5, 2018 - 3:52 pm

The Nevada Department of Transportation hosted a set of community workshops across several parts of the state to get input on transit services and the needs of the public.

NDOT hosted several workshops across Nye County to gain input from citizens, local planners and members of the transportation industry and others.

In Pahrump, a crowd of just under 20 individuals attended the area workshop held on June 19 at the NyE Coalition building at 1020 E. Wilson Road.

Matt Bradley, multi-modal transportation planner at NDOT, said the main purpose of the meeting was to gain insight on the current state of rural transit and to see what the needs of the community are with these workshops.

Bradley explained that some of the federal grants NDOT uses to fund projects require that a study be completed periodically.

Specifically, Section 5310 of The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), signed into law in 2005, requires that a study be done every five years, according to Bradley.

Section 5310 is focused specifically on seniors and individuals with disabilities. NDOT must apply for grants under Section 5310 through the Federal Transit Administration, grants that can partially fund a project.

The recent study for NDOT is being completed with the aid of an out-of-state consultancy firm named RLS &Associates Inc., which is based in Ohio. Julie Schafer, senior associate for RLS, was a key speaker at the workshop in Pahrump.

Other workshops were held in Nye County, including at the Tonopah Convention Center in June.

At the Pahrump workshop, Schafer drafted a few notes on unmet needs that were mentioned, per discussions that took place at the coalition building.

Some of those notes included a “need for some type of regular route service—fixed or deviated.”

The summary also included a call for “additional funding sources to expand service options and hours—develop dedicated state fund, local income tax, etc.,” the summary read.

Demand has been on the rise.

According to Schafer’s stakeholder summary, Pahrump Valley Public Transit has gone from 20 people per day to 70 since it launched its bus service earlier in 2018.

Other identified needs included better coordination among existing programs and regular service from Pahrump to Las Vegas.

Some at the meeting also called for expansion of transit services to include Amargosa Valley and Beatty.

Attendees were also looking for expanded service hours and days of transit systems in place, along with calling for a larger fleet of public transit vehicles.

During a roughly two-hour discussion at the coalition building, solutions mentioned were doing a planning study that would help determine the most effective transportation services and funding sources as an example.

Another solution was to have dedicated state transit funding through a gasoline tax or other mechanism, according to Schafer’s summary.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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