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Rural transit study nears completion

A study that will help shape the future of rural transit in Nevada is wrapping up.

Ohio-based consultancy firm RLS &Associates Inc. announced in early December that it’s wrapping up its statewide Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The plan, which must be updated periodically so NDOT will qualify for certain future federal grants, will be used as a tool going forward by transportation planners on transit development across rural Nevada.

RLS put out its draft plan on areas of concern or needs of communities across the rural parts of the state, which it created following a series of public and stakeholder meetings, as well as through surveys, earlier in 2018.

In its 31-page draft report, RLS laid out nine preliminary goals, and a section of subsequent potential strategies to form an action plan on those goals. The preliminary goals and strategies were developed “for statewide implementation based up on analysis of existing services and demographics and public and stakeholder input,” according to the draft report.

“The FAST Act applies new program rules to all Fiscal Year 2016 through Fiscal Year 2020 funds and authorizes transit programs for five years,” the report stated. “According to FAST Act requirements, locally-developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plans must be updated to reflect the changes established by the FAST Act Federal legislation.”

Funding for the plan’s update was provided by NDOT’s transit section, the report stated.

According to the report, the Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan was initially developed in 2011. After the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law in 2015, the legislation reauthorized surface transportation programs through fiscal year 2020, according to the draft report. RLS is conducting a survey in December, where participants choose what strategies should get the lowest to the highest priority, in order to work toward a final report, results of which could be released within the next few weeks, according to an email from RLS to participants in the surveys and meetings conducted earlier this year.

The average of the survey results will be taken “to come to a conclusion,” the email stated. The strategies will be incorporated into a final report to be used over the next four years to improve access to transit services in rural Nevada. The urban centers of the state are creating their own plans.

The goals listed in the report were set to be put in place at a variety of levels, including at the county and state level.

One of the nine goals listed was to establish a coordinated transportation framework at the state level. Underneath that goal was the call to establish a state coordinated transportation council for rural transportation and to establish coordinated community transportation regions.

Another goal that came out of the meetings and other avenues is to expand regional connectivity and improve local transportation services, among several other listed in the report by RLS.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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