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New county transit boss seeks timelier service

Kristofer B. WakefieldBill Derrick poses with part the Gold Country Stage bus fleet he oversees.
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Western Nevada County’s public bus service has a new boss.

Bill Derrick, a man who helped run the public bus systems in Chico and Reno in the mid-1980s and early ’90s, took over Dec. 9 as transit services manager overseeing the Gold Country Stage.

So will the Gold Country Stage raise fares? Eliminate or modify some routes? Give discounts to seniors? Buy more buses powered by environmentally friendly compressed natural gas?



These are some topics that Derrick will tackle this year in his new job. The bus system is in the midst of renewing its 1997 five-year operation plan with the help of a Tahoe City consulting firm: LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc.

“We’ll be taking a very hard look at the routes and schedules and the fare structure,” said Derrick.




One thing the consultant found was “we need to work on improving our on-time performance,” he said. “We really need to work on that.”

Increased traffic congestion since bus schedules were last set may have slowed buses down, Derrick said, and schedules may need adjustment because of that.

As for his overall philosophy, Derrick said, “I believe my first responsibility is to provide good service to the customers.”

Derrick, 51, enjoys classical music and has sung baritone in choral groups. He and his wife, Angela, who formerly worked in customer service for United Airlines, took advantage of the free flights her job offered and traveled extensively in such places as Europe and China. The couple are selling their home in Lompoc.

The bus service has operated without a transit services manager since May, 2002 when Perry Christensen stepped down.

“The staff here is pretty good. They’ve really kept it together,” Derrick said.

Derrick’s most recent job was a three-year stint as director of the Santa Barbara Association of Governments. The regional association’s board included the five county supervisors and city council representatives from eight cities.

“It was an intense political environment. There was a lot of polarization. What appealed to me about this job was the opportunity to kind of just get back to delivering a service to the community. It’s a little more nuts and bolts and on the street and not so much policy level,” Derrick said.

Nevada County Transportation Director Michael Hill-Weld said Derrick is “very well qualified for the job” because he has experience with both transit and transportation planning.

Because of that, when new developments are proposed, Derrick can make sure they provide such necessary things as bus turn-out lanes and bus shelters.

County transportation commission member Ann Guerra said of Derrick “… I think he’s going to get up to speed quickly.”

A public meeting about proposed Gold Country Stage changes likely will be held in late January, but an exact date hasn’t yet been set, said Dan Landon, the transportation commission’s executive director.


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