TAHOE CITY, Calif. — After being on the brink of cancellation, the North Lake Tahoe Express will continue, albeit with reduced service.
The Reno/Tahoe International Airport shuttle went from 24 daily offered runs to 12, effective Feb. 1, due to funding issues.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to reduce service, but at the same time, I would rather reduce service and keep the program on the road,” said Jaime Wright, executive director of the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association.
For fiscal year 2013-14 (July 1 to June 30), the Express had a budget of $150,700, but by the end of December 2013, only about $22,000 remained, Wright said, due to fluctuating monthly costs since expenses were based on a per-run basis.
While an additional $64,000 was needed to maintain operations, the program’s funding partners — town of Truckee, Incline Village/Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau and the Tahoe Biltmore, among others — didn’t believe they could secure the money.
Rather than cancel the program, which would have happened Feb. 27, TMA officials, funding partners and service operator, Airport Mini Bus, chose to reduce service through June 30.
Negotiations for a 2014-15 contract that would restore the program to 24 daily scheduled runs, effective July 1, are under way.
Instead of charging a per-run subsidy, Airport Mini Bus is proposing a flat monthly fee of $6,000. The service would have a $124,000 budget, Wright said. A finalized contract is expected no later than end of May.
“Ultimately, the goal for us as a destination is to shift to be more destination-traveler friendly,” Wright said. “… Without that connection from the Reno airport, it seems that it would hurt the overall vision.”
The North Lake Tahoe Express started in November 2006, providing rides from various locations along the North Shore and Truckee to the Reno airport for one-way and round-trip fees.
For the 2013-14 season, one-way trips for one person cost $45, with a round-trip ride costing $85.