RTC enlists businesses to promote free buses | nnbw.com

RTC enlists businesses to promote free buses

NNBW Staff

A lesson from the second day of ECON 101 demand goes up when the price is cut is bearing fruit for the Regional Transportation Commission with its Sierra Spirit bus in downtown Reno.

And if you cut the price to nothing? RTC has seen steady increases in ridership on the service that circles downtown since it became free in late May.

Between 300 and 400 passengers a day now use the service, says Meliss Garramone, a marketing associate with RTC.

Now Garramone is making the rounds of businesses in the downtown area, pitching them on the Sierra Spirit bus and looking for ways to more closely align the service with their needs.

Sierra Service began operation about a year ago, using Sierra and Center streets on a route that runs from the Nevada Museum of Art on the south to the edge of the University of Nevada, Reno, on the north.

Service is available every 10 minutes.

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The service operated by RTC through a federal grant is designed to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.

It got a major boost this spring, Garramone says, when the Reno Redevelopment Agency provided funds that allowed Sierra Service to become a free service.

Previously, the fare had been 50 cents.

As Garramone talks with individual businesses as well as groups such as the Downtown Improvement Association and the Riverwalk Merchants Association, she tells them that RTC is looking for ways to promote downtown destinations.

In return, the transit agency hopes that businesses will tell customers and employees about the free service.

The downtown casinos have helped steer customers to Sierra Spirit as a way of getting around, and the service is expected to benefit, too, from the development new condominiums and other housing projects in the area.

Garramone says the free service also may attract usage from downtown workers who hop the bus to head for a favorite lunch spot or after-work spot, for that matter.

She says RTC also is looking for ideas from downtown businesses about ways to promote the service to folks who shop, work or live in the area.