All aboard: Gold Country Stage gets folks ’round town, and beyond
Special to The Union
We’ve all seen them, the blue-and-gold striped buses driving around our town.
What we might not see is just how much they do for our county.
“Riding the bus is a great experience, there’s a real sense of community. The drivers are helpful, kind and supportive, and it’s generally a lot easier than people think,” says Daniela Fernández, a Nevada County travel trainer, who offers help through 2-1-1 program, the connecting point for local services.
The Gold Country Stage provides timely public transportation service to Nevada County, continually seeking to make it easier for citizens of all ages to get around town while also catering to seniors and youth in the community.
Kids under 5 ride free, kids ages 6-17 get a 50% discount on one-ride passes as well as one-day and monthly passes. In addition, they also offer a $25 summer pass for youth under 17, with unlimited rides from June 1 to Aug. 30.
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Similar discounts apply to seniors over 65, 50% off one-ride, one-day and monthly passes. They take it a step further for those over 80, giving the option of a Golden Ticket. A Golden Ticket provides free ridership on any line for life.
To purchase a monthly pass, youth summer pass or a golden ticket, visit the Multi-Purpose Utility Building at the Tinloy Transit Center on the first two days of the month. Single ride or one-day passes can be purchased when boarding the bus. Golden Tickets can also be purchased over the phone at 530-477-0103
Buses make stops at kid and youth-friendly places like 49er Fun Park, Memorial Park, Pioneer Park, Madelyn Helling Library, the Condon Park skatepark and the NEO Youth Center — all regular stops. During the Nevada County Fair, the Gold Country Stage provides free fares on all lines, including directly to and from the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
HOP ON THE BUS
“Gold Country Stage has an unwavering desire to improve and encourage ridership on their buses,” says Peter Stein. “We are committed to a safe and enjoyable trip to your destination.”
Stein has driven for the Gold Country Stage for six years. Before becoming a bus driver, Stein was a school teacher in the Bay Area. He has worked as a bus driver for 10 years, spending four years as a driver for Durham School Services before joining Gold Country Stage.
Cost-efficient, the bus can be used for daily outings as well. Gas in Grass Valley is almost $4 a gallon, which is 50 cents less than a full day-pass for adults on the Gold Country Stage. Consumer friendly, money spent on the bus also benefits by cycling back into the local economy.
Among many stops, riders can depart at the Fowler Shopping Center, Glenbrook Shopping Center, Pine Creek Shopping Center and more for shopping needs. Stopping at or near many schools and work complexes, the bus is also an option for a daily commute, and could save riders from the stress of finding parking in our ever-growing neck of the woods.
Public transportation not only benefits our community by providing a public service, but could reduce its carbon footprint. One bus can hold 40 passengers, cutting back as many as 40 other vehicles on the road. Providing regular on-time routes across town gives people an alternative to driving, improving our air quality one bus at a time.
Among changes that have been made to the bus system over the past year is the addition of new security cameras and safety measures. Gold Country Stage is also in the process of adding an annunciator which will announce the next stop before you arrive.
For those feeling hesitant, the local 2-1-1 connecting point is happy to lend a hand. Fernández will guide you through the process of riding and understanding the bus, even going as far as to ride with you if needed.
“Riding the bus promotes independence,” says Fernández. “Learning how to ride the bus, going through the steps … I’m watching it make people feel good about themselves.”
Fernández and her team at 2-1-1 host classes to help you take advantage of the county’s services, including a Bus Basics class. This class will teach you the ropes of Nevada County’s public transit, informing participants about fares, routes and reading the schedule. It will be hosted from 2-3:30 p.m. on July 15 at the 2-1-1 building on 208 Sutton Way. For more information you can visit their offices or simply dial 2-1-1.
This summer, one of the changes coming to the bus fair will be introducing a new route in order to access some parts of our county not currently being serviced. As of July 8, the new Route 7 will be providing service to North San Juan. Route 7 has stops at the North San Juan Post Office, Sierra Family Medical Clinic, Ananda Village and the Yuba River.
Transit Services Manager Robin Van Valkenburgh and Nancy Peckham have pushed through and overseen the installation of Route 7, the new security measures and new buses.
People and organizations across the county have teamed up to contribute to the growth of Gold Country Stage.
“Gold Country Stage is trying to create a transportation portal,” said Stein.
Local community programs like Hospitality House have teamed up to help homeless people in the community, or those who may have social barriers. Grants from the California Air Resources Board awarded to 2-1-1, allows Gold Country Stage to have frequent free fare days where all routes are free.
Visit http://www.mynevadacounty.com/2258/Gold-Country-Stage for more information free fare days, maps of routes and more information on the Gold Country Stage.
Mia McKnight is a high school student and a freelance writer who lives in Grass Valley.
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