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Pahrump could see public bus services next fall

The first public bus service is on the horizon for Pahrump next year while financial aid for the proposed system is still pending.

Nye Ryder, a local on-demand transportation program, is currently trying to raise funds to deliver the four buses that were donated by the Utah Transit Authority to Pahrump.

"Our big focus right now is getting those buses here because that's a big chunk of this whole project. And that's $250,000 to $300,000 we don't have to worry about by getting these vehicles donated to us. So that's a huge cost savings," said Albert Bass, member of the Nye County Regional Transportation Commission.

"And then, once they are here, the program itself is approved and everything moves forward by the commissioners, (it) would not kick off until about October-November of next year, of 2016," he added.

Bass said the four buses would be initially utilized to transport local residents around the community, because several grants that are needed for the launch of the program won't kick in until next year.

Among those grants are Aging and Disability Services Division, Veteran Services, and the heftiest grant from Nevada Department of Transportation that is supposed to bring $150,000 into the program's coffers next October.

Since the project had been discussed at the Nye County Transportation Commission in late August, officials scaled the proposed program down to 5,000 hours a month from the original 9,000 hours.

"We wanted to make sure that we started small and grew, have the program grow. So we've designed it to start as small as possible with a 5,000-(hour) service plan, which is basically like a Monday through Friday during peak hours of the day, and we can scale that up slowly as demand comes in and people know there's a service available, then they want to use it more," he said.

Bass also touted the potential economic impact of the service that could be extended to other parts of county after starting in Pahrump Valley.

"So, none of the transportation programs we have are accessed fully by the whole community. Where a transit system like this, a demand response system can be accessed by anybody in the community, it really just kind of fills in the gaps and makes it more accessible to the community as a whole," he said.

The assessment of the economic impacts of rural public transportation conducted by the Federal Transit Administration showed that the average net earnings growth differential between rural counties with transit and without transit was 11 percent.

The analysis of total net earnings growth for all of the rural counties in the United States between 1980 and 1994 showed an average economic impact per county from transit was $1.092,293.

The program has yet to get approval from Nye County commissioners who previously expressed concern whether the financially stressed county would have to fund the bus line.

In the meantime, Commissioner Dan Schinhofen suggested the town should supplement the program that would service it for at least a couple of years.

"It's a given that this will require tax dollars to run and since it would only service a small part of Pahrump, maybe the town should pay for it," Schinhofen said.

If the funding for the program isn't available, Bass said, it won't start.

"If the time comes that the funding is just not there, we just don't launch. So it hasn't hurt anything, we haven't started. It hasn't put a lot of time and effort out by the county for this. If the money and funds just aren't there when the time comes to go turn-key, we just don't initiate it. We just don't start it."

Contact reporter Daria Sokolova at dsokolova@pvtimes.com. Follow @dariasokolova77 on Twitter.

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