Bus System "Safe Place"

By: Kara Tsuboi
By: Kara Tsuboi

"Safe Place" is a national program, found in 42 states. For the first time in Northern Nevada, the Regional Transportation Commission has teamed up with the Children's Cabinet to provide a mobile "Safe Place."

Once it's operational on February 24th, here's how the new "Safe Place" program will work:

If a child or teenager is in need of help from either a bad situation at home, a bully at school or even danger on the streets, he or she can board any one of the region's buses and ask the driver for help, who will then alert dispatch.

"The dispatch will call the 800 number. Then we'll meet the bus system either at citicenter or their next stop where we can easily access the youth and get them help," says Heather Burgin, the "Safe Place" and Youth Development Coordinator for the Children's Cabinet.

For a year and a half, the Children's Cabinet has maintained a "Safe Place" partnership with local McDonald's restaurants. To date, more than 20 kids have turned to the familiar fast food chain for instant help.

But now with the bus system in place, help is even more convenient.

"The mobile element is key because they're driving around everywhere and there's also bus stops everywhere you look. And a lot of youth use the bus system as they're able to access it easier," adds Burgin.

The RTC realized the role they could play in the community program, that's why they first approached the Children's Cabinet to become a partner.

"We have more than 1100 bus stops scattered across Washoe County, parts of Douglas and Carson City. Every bus stop is a safe place," says Jim McGrath, RTC's Public Information Officer.

McGrath says at least 100 buses are on the road at any one time, each with a trained driver who will be able to provide assistance.

"Our drivers are a great bunch of people. They've been through the training. They're always looking for ways they can improve the customer service experience as well as be part of the community. A child in need is everyone's concern, they pretty much look at it that way."

This new partnership will not create any extra expense for bus passengers, and there is no charge to use the "Safe Place" program.

If you or a child you know is in need of a "Safe Place," call their hotline: 1-800-536-4588. Someone is there on the other end, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.


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