Public Transit Bus Routes  Coming to Sierra County

 Prospect Reporting Staff

The Social Services Transportation Advisory Council met in Loyalton April 22 at the Loyalton Senior Center for the annual meeting. The SSTAC meets to participate in identifying transit needs in Sierra County. This includes identifying unmet transit needs where there is a reasonable potential of fulfilling.

The biggest most important point talked about is that the transportation system commonly known as the "Senior Vans" is really a Public Transit System. There was concern expressed at the meeting that in spite of outreach efforts many residents believe the vans are for seniors or disabled people only. This is not the case. There is a priority requirement for seniors and disabled established in funding sources, however, the vans often run without a full load and the message everyone needs to hear is this is a Public Transit System not a "senior only" van.

You can skip the next paragraph as it is very wordy and doesn’t tell you much.

It was agreed to continue the definition of the Public Transit system as fulfilling the County’s needs by: a) any transportation service that offers equitable access to all persons including the young, economically disadvantaged, elderly and disabled, that when evaluated against such criteria as equity, timing, feasibility, economy, community acceptance and cost effectiveness, that service can generate the required 10% fare box recovery match and b) a transportation system, that when implemented, meets a 10% fare box return and does not exceed a yearly total operating cost in TDA funds. The amount is the total programmed by Sierra County Transportation Commission for operational assistance to Golden Rays Senior Citizens Inc. and the Incorporated Senior Citizens of Sierra County.

Amazingly there was a great deal of discussion about the above a) and b) which seems odd as both together seem to make very little sense or have any connection to the real world. However, the discussion led to acknowledging there are unmet needs and right now, as you read, the Golden Rays of western Sierra County and the Inc. Senior Citizens of Sierra County are making plans for a bus route across Sierra County from Indian Valley to Loyalton.

Individually each side of the gap is setting up there own routes with regular stops at specified times. Later there is hope there will be an ability to Board a bus in Downieville and ride it to the Yuba Pass to meet up with the bus from Loyalton, riders can transfer aka "get off one bus and onto another" to continue their ride to points east or points west. Eventually the buses will continue on to Grass Valley or Reno and may in fact provide commuter service for workers in those communities.

Someday western Sierra kids can ride the bus to swim in the Loyalton Pool and eastern Sierra kids can visit Willoughby’s swimming hole. The bad news about all this is the funding and whether the funds will dry up completely. Economic times are bad as everyone knows and funds for frivolities are the first to go. Maybe frivolities isn’t the right word to use here. Transportation is a basic necessity of life. To get to the store, go to the doctor, arrive at work and maybe to the swimming pool are one of those requirements to have a full active life. We in Sierra County want and need this as much as anyone and kudos go to our County Supervisors, the Transportation Commission our Transportation Planner, Bryan Davey, Human Services Asst Director Janice Maddox, the van coordinators Patrick Manning and Russ Skustad and the unsung heroes in the system who recognize this is a necessity and strive to make it happen.

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