County may cut nighttime bus routes |

County may cut nighttime bus routes

Western Nevada County could lose its dwindling night bus service.

That was one of the alternatives put Wednesday before the Nevada County Transit Services Commission, which oversees the Gold Country Stage bus service and the Telecare service for disabled riders.

But the panel could not deal with the issue because only three of the seven commission members came to the meeting, leaving the board without a quorum.

When the board does meet again, alternatives to ending night service include getting a better-paying rate for Gold Country Telecare to run it or turning it back to Gold Country. Staff members had recommended eliminating the night service in the summer of 2003 due to low ridership and high costs.

But panel members voted to turn the night route over to Telecare. In July this year, Telecare cut the night service from four hours to 21Ú2 hours per night as another cost-savings measure.

According to bus service manager Bill Derrick’s report, the night service has less than 2 percent of total ridership. Night drivers said the majority of passengers are taking social and recreational trips then and “work trips constitute a low percentage of the total usage of the route.”

Late in September, Telecare Executive Director Susan Healy-Harman sent Gold Country Stage a letter saying night service would be terminated Oct. 29 because of ongoing high costs and low ridership.

Derrick’s monthly report said overall Gold Country Stage ridership is stable, with some routes showing an increase.

Ridership was down 12 percent compared to August, but the added bus traffic to the Nevada County Fair in August explained the decrease, Derrick said. Overall ridership was down 1 percent in September compared to 2003.

Ridership was up for the Ridge Road, Brunswick Basin, Auburn, Loma Rica and Squirrel Creek routes, Derrick’s report said. Productivity was up to 10.34 passengers per vehicle service hour in September compared to 9.94 the year before.

The affiliated Nevada County Transportation Commission did have a quorum Wednesday and opted to meet every other month instead of monthly. The board will meet again Dec. 15 and then set the new schedule up for next year.

Board member Russ Steele said commission staff members are having time stripped from them for important projects by preparing for monthly meetings.

Commission Executive Director Dan Landon said those projects include:

• Rerouting downtown Grass Valley traffic, now called the Grass Valley Corridor Improvement Project.

• Proposed interchanges at Crestview Drive and Dorsey Drive.

• Continued widening of Highway 49 from Combie Road to Grass Valley.

• Compiling a plan to adhere to new federal and state air quality rules.

• Updating the plan that uses developer fees for roads.

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