Gold Country Stage to retire 6 buses |

Gold Country Stage to retire 6 buses

After covering more than 300,000 miles each, six Gold Country Stage buses are now slated for retirement, thanks to a Nevada County Transit Services Commission vote Wednesday.

The commission agreed with Transit Services Manager Bill Derrick’s recommendation to retire three buses this fall and three next fall to save insurance and maintenance costs for the fleet, which currently has 18 buses.

He expects the veteran buses to bring in a few thousand each – a new bus costs about $80,000.

“There isn’t much of a market for them,” Derrick said.

In the future, the Gold Country Stage will try to replace buses every five years or every 150,000 miles, eventually stabilizing the fleet at 12 buses, Derrick said.

Currently, all 18 buses are used, but only eight are needed at a time. At least three additional buses are needed to provide special service for the Nevada County Fair and other events, Derrick said.

The fair boosted Gold County Stage’s passenger count in August, creating a blip in the continued loss of riders following two rounds of route cuts.

Almost 25,000 passengers took a Gold Country Stage bus in August – only 19,500 rode in July, Derrick said.

The declines stem from the most recent service cut in July, which cut off service between Grass Valley and Nevada City at 8:30 p.m. and significantly reduced service to Colfax and North San Juan.

The commission also permitted Gold Country Telecare, which provides rides to disabled Nevada County residents, to operate without a bond. The five commissioners waived a contract requirement that had been created to protect the county if Telecare, which is independent of the county, went bankrupt.

Telecare could only have obtained a $365,000 bond if one of its board members assumed personal liability, Executive Director Susan Healy-Harman said. No board member volunteered.

Derrick recommended the waiver, saying that in an emergency the county would either operate the service itself or hire a temporary contractor.

“We don’t think there is a lot of risk,” Derrick said.

Derrick introduced Healy-Harman to the commission – she is replacing former executive director Don Martin who resigned effective Sept.. 30. Healy-Harman was the organization’s development director.

In other transportation news:

• A train service from Reno to Auburn is being discussed by area leaders, Nevada County Transportation Commission Executive Director Dan Landon said Wednesday. Planners expect about 80,000 riders per year. A study will be released in February 2005.

• To address the accident-plagued intersection at Idaho-Maryland Road and Brunswick Road, transportation planners are holding a public meeting Sept. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Rood Administrative Center, senior county engineer John Rumsey said.

A recent University of California Berkeley Institute of Traffic Studies team drafted a report on the intersection, which sees about 15,000 vehicles per day.

The group recommended removing trees, installing a median, widening shoulders, and installing speed monitoring signs. These options will be discussed at the meeting. Any construction would occur when and if the Loma Rica Ranch development is constructed.

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