News 4-25-07 Sierra Spirit gets funding
4/25/07 - SIERRA SPIRIT - The City Council today reluctantly agreed to fund the downtown system with $60,000, but complained that the city was funding a larger portion than they should, and that the beneficiaries of the bus, primarily businesses downtown and casinos, should hold some of the responsibility for funding it. Sharon Zadra felt is was absolutely essential for the service to continue downtown. I tend to agree. BUT, if you want to increase use of it, you have to make it sexy. Sexy for Las Vegas is the Deuce bus, a sleek double decker that travels up and down the strip much like our Sierra Spirit but in a larger capacity. It's extremely popular and successful, more successful than their monorail embarrassment. I feel sexy for Reno would be something similar to what the city of Davis, California uses for its inner-city metro line. Check these buses out! Perhaps if we switched out our yellow short buses out with retro red double decker buses, ridership would go up.
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Posted by: Matt - 4/26/2007 7:32:08 AM
It is always more fun to ride those double decker buses isn't it. Thanks for the updates today, good stuff!
Posted by: Justin - 4/26/2007 8:08:25 AM
I don't personally think investing in a "sexier" bus is a good use of city money. I seriously doubt it would significatnly increase ridership and get people downtown. It just seems like a waste of money to spend more on something that isn't a significant generator of revenue for the downtown region to begin with. As it stands now, I would be okay with the city cutting Sierra Spirit funding entirely if they would guarantee the funds would go to funding construction of a light rail or bus rapid transit type system in the near future (5-10 years). Granted, either of these systems would require many millions of dollars, but they will be desperately needed in the next 10 years as our roads grow increasingly clogged with cars and as downtown continues to evolve from predominantly tourist-based to more residential/commercial-based.
Reno should really look closely at Salt Lake City and Portland, both of which have shown real leadership in their respective markets in terms of mass transit implementation, expansion & design (e.g. light rail, aerial tram).
Posted by: Mike Van H - 4/26/2007 11:10:04 AM
Hey Justin! The double decker buses in Davis, California are EXTREMELY popular. The Deuce buses in Las Vegas are more popular than the monorail which covers basically the same route. I think it still might be a bit early to think about light rail, or at least now is the time to start planning for it 10+ years down the line. Our population doesnt even compare to Portland, Salt Lake City etc or even Sacramento, which has a tiny light rail system. I did some research and couldnt find any cities under population 500,000 that had a light rail system.
I like the idea of BRT, because the buses are SEXY and look like light rail trains, just with rubber wheels. I think a lot of Americans, although they wont admit it, think of buses as almost sub-human, that they are above riding a bus. I have heard that over and over again. So, if you make them sexy or unusual, like Vegas did, or Davis did, people may ride it. Also, the city only partually funds Sierra Spirit, its also funded by RTC,and I believe federal funds.
Posted by: Justin - 4/26/2007 12:35:26 PM
I guess that depends on how you define the population of a city. Salt Lake City proper actually has less citizens than Reno. However, their Metropolitan Trade Area is about 4 times greater, but also spans a much larger area (e.g. urban sprawl).
In any case, I get your point. I just wish this city was more forward thinking instead of so reactionary. We could have implemented some of the infrastructure necessary for a mass transit sytem when they redid Virgina Street, which last I heard was going to get a Bus Rapid Transit system sometime in the near future (Source: http://www.rtcwashoe.com/planning/transit/brt/). Instead, I'm sure we'll wait until traffic is gridlocked, smog is horrible and the cost and inconvenience to residents will be at an all time highs.
Just as a sidenote, I think the McCarran Blvd. loop & Virginia Street from the University to Mt. Rose Hwy. are ideal locations for light rail/BRT. Afterall, 80-90% of businesses in the area are located within 1 mile of these two streets. Even if they started now to secure financing, approve designs, etc. they probably wouldn't start construction until 2010 at the earliest, which means it probably wouldn't be up and running until 2015. By 2015, Reno should have roughly 290k people, Sparks should have over 100k and the MTA should be over 500k people.
Posted by: Mike Van H - 4/26/2007 12:57:30 PM
Well the BRT will actually travel down Center St until it gets to Liberty, then cross over to South Virginia on Liberty and travel down South Virginia from there. I think actually or I heard that Virginia Lake Crossing is including in their plans provisions for a big transit stop.
I agree Reno shouldn't wait until things get bad to do it, and it seems plans have kind of fizzled away, even though the ReTRAC Master PLan includes major transit stops (not like bus stops) in its plan.