Jump Around Carson
Page 1

It seems like ages since we were able to commute to work for only $25 a month. Yet, even today as gas prices go up almost daily on their way to shatter the $4 ceiling again, it is still possible to do that, at least here in Carson City.

JAC - which stands for "Jump Around Carson" - is the public transportation system for Nevada's Capital, consisting of a fleet of small busses that services 170 stops along four scheduled routes that cover the city from Fuji Park at the south end to the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center at the north end, and from the Western Nevada College to the West to the residential areas east of Airport Road. Since October 2005, the green and purple busses have become a familiar sight to residents of our town. Each route is serviced twelve times on weekdays and eight times on Saturdays. No service on Sundays.

In addition to the five busses for scheduled service, JAC also operates seven busses under the "JAC Assist" label, which is a direct descendant of the "Dial-A-Ride" program that used to be Carson City's first - and rather limited - public transportation, prior to October 2005. Like Dial-A-Ride, JAC Assist is a curb-to-curb service for disabled persons and their personal care attendants. Passengers have to meet certain criteria to receive a photo ID that entitles them to use this service. Currently there are more than 175 disabled persons registered with JAC.

I wanted to know a little more about JAC, how it works and the people who make it work, so I met with transportation manager Patrick Pittenger and transit coordinator Ken Smithson to discuss the project. Less than a week after this meeting I found myself on the city yard at

 

the crack of dawn, with the sound of half a dozen diesel engines warming up in the freezing February morning air.

Each bus is inspected by its driver, inside and out, prior to taking it on the road. Jack Shelton, the driver of the route 2A bus that I will be riding with, finds everything in order and at 6:20 we roll off the city yard, heading for the transit hub on Plaza Street, right next to the federal building. Jack, who has been a driver with JAC for a little over a year, tells me not to expect many passengers on the first loop, which heads to the College first, then swings to the east side of town, before returning to the federal building. "This time of the year the bus won't really fill up until the second time around", he predicts, and adds, "It's different in summer. You'll be amazed to see how many passengers will already be waiting for the bus this early".

Jack was right. At the hub, passengers were waiting for busses serving other routes, but none for us. "College students use JAC more in the afternoon than in the morning, because many of them take classes after work", he explains as we leave the transit hub at 6:30. Indeed, our first passenger for today, Bruce, boards the bus on

 
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