Tourist and commuter bus lines may be halted

The Regional Transportation Commission is considering ending the Sierra Spirit bus and the Reno/Carson intercity bus service.

“Washoe County voters did not approve an additional 1/8 percent sales tax dedicated to transit (RTC-2),” read a flyer posted on some buses. “As a result, RTC will need to reduce public transportation services by as much as 25 percent in 2009. These reductions will be in addition to service cuts made this year.”

Sierra Spirit is a free bus that circulates around downtown between Liberty on the south and 17th Street at the north end of the UNR campus. It is popular with both locals and tourists.

The intercity service, heavily used by commuters, links up muncipal bus lines in Reno and the capital.

A Regional Transportation Board Workshop on this topic will take place on Friday, Dec. 19 at the RTC offices under the freeway at 2050 Villanova Drive. The meeting will begin “no earlier than 9 a.m.” The meeting site can be reached on bus route 14A.

While RTC-2 did not pass, RTC-5 was endorsed by voters. It gave Regional Transportation officials a mandate to ask the Nevada Legislature for permission to raise fuel taxes without a public vote in order to keep up with inflation. Sierra Spirit, the intercity routes, and other recently discontinued routes were all victims of declining revenues, though the decline may have been due as much to reduced purchasing as to inflation.