Changes to free Tahoe ski shuttle likely if it returns |

Changes to free Tahoe ski shuttle likely if it returns

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — While the free North Tahoe-Truckee Coordinated Ski Shuttle’s future is uncertain, service changes are being considered if it returns next winter.

In its pilot year last winter, the 44-day, five-bus operation saw lower-than-expected ridership (3,206 passengers) and a high average per-person operating cost ($48.18).

It cost $238,127 to operate, with $165,349 going to service operator Amador Stage Lines, based in Reno.

Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts spent $169,000 to finance the service, along with project partners North Lake Tahoe Resort Association ($65,900), Homewood Mountain Resort ($5,700) and town of Truckee ($5,000). Those groups will be the ones to determine the shuttle’s future.

Excess funding of $7,473 could be used as seed money for next year’s service, if it continues.

“We are committed to supporting regional transit, and we believe that continuing the interim (program) in the next year is the right thing to do,” said Mike Livak, Squaw Valley executive vice president, at last Thursday’s Transportation Management Association meeting.

During the meeting, Gordon Shaw, principal of LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc., presented the following potential changes::

Ending the service about two weeks earlier — March 16 vs. March 31 — due to ridership falling substantially after mid-March last winter.

Adding a second full week of service during spring break due to that time period having increased ridership.

Decreasing the fleet to either four, three or two buses, thereby decreasing overall cost to $224,800, $184,850 and $146,900, respectively.

Contracting with a local operator to decrease expenses, since it would be based on hours of service, rather than a daily vehicle charge.

Using public funding to purchase a transit fleet to make the service more cost effective.

A final decision regarding the shuttle’s future is expected no later than October, said TMA Executive Director Jaime Wright.

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