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RTC forms special committee to address future funding

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Regional Transportation Commission

Reno transportation officials say they can't keep up with community needs without more funding. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss reports that the Regional Transportation Commission has formed a special committee to come up with a plan for creating new funding sources before the legislature starts back up in February.

Right now, the RTC is operating at transit levels comparable to the 90s. That's partly because federal funding decreased significantly during the recession and has not bounced back.

“We are not unique in this," says the RTC's CFO Stephanie Haddock. "Every transit agency in the nation, I would believe, is completely underfunded in the things that they want to provide to the public and feel the public should have.”
 
In recent years, the RTC has set out to collect ample input from community members to figure out how local transit should evolve in the next twenty years. 
 
“We feel this community—our vision—is that it should have more transit," Haddock explains, "and we’ve heard that from our public as well. And we want to be able to fund that and provide that, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
 
Priorities for that future vision include expanding services for Washoe's aging population and renovating outdated facilities. But those improvements come with a hefty price tag of roughly $175 million. Right now, that vision is completely unfunded, which is why the RTC has created a Blue Ribbon Committee to brainstorm options for revenue growth such as forming public/private partnerships, asking voters to approve a sales tax increase, or proposing legislative actions during the upcoming session. 
 
The committee includes about 40 community leaders from local and state government, labor unions, the private sector, and educational entities who will offer their recommendations on how to proceed by early next year.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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