Free service, Highway 267 route eyed for Tahoe transit future
November 4, 2013
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The vision for a North Shore/Truckee regional transit system is coming together, but more work lies ahead, officials said.
"Imagine that visitors could arrive by plane or train, be shuttled to their lodging and explore the incredible amenities of North Lake Tahoe during peak seasons without ever needing an automobile," said Sandy Evans Hall, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Chamber/ CVB/ Resort Association. "If we can imagine a first-class transportation system, we are that much closer to making it so."
A preliminary regional transit vision includes consolidation of the east Placer County and Truckee transit systems under one brand, increased frequency — 30 minutes during peak seasons, 60 minutes during nonpeak seasons — extended service hours from 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m, and year-round Highway 267 service.
And it would all be free to riders, Evans Hall explained at the Oct. 22 Truckee Town Council meeting.
'MORE THAN CRITICAL'
While waiting for a TART bus Monday afternoon at the Tahoe City Transit Center, Tahoma resident Ernie Pierson said he particularly liked the idea of service to Highway 267.
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"I think it's more than critical now; it's not just an option — there's too many people living up there," he said.
As a frequent rider, Pierson also had a few suggestions.
"They need a concierge, a host, whatever you want to call it," he said, referring to the transit center. "… A lot of people come here from all over the world. This is a very visited place, and I think it would be very good to have someone to tell people (things to do, answer questions)."
Another idea was adding a coffee kiosk and vending machine, so those waiting in the center have access to a drink and a snack.
'MORE UP TO PAR'
In developing a vision, transportation officials looked at several resort area systems, including Summit County, Colo.; Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colo.
"Our vision compared to what the other areas are offering today brings us up a little bit more to par to the areas more in our league," said Will Garner, transit services manager for the Placer County Department of Public Works.
Other benefits of a regional transit system include getting people out of resort areas and into the communities, meeting visitor transit expectations, improving the environment in terms of lake clarity and air quality, increasing pedestrian and biker safety on roadways, and helping with hosting large events, Evans Hall said.
But it comes at a cost. The preliminary vision would cost $2.6 million more, making an annual transit expense slightly more than $7 million, Evans said.
"You just briefly touched on the funding nut, which I know from when we talk transit here, it's a tough one and doesn't happen without a lot of subsidies," council member Joan deRyk Jones said on Oct. 22. "Have you found some creative solutions or really out-of-the-box thinking on that?"
How to fund the system has yet to be determined, Evans Hall said.
Currently, public transportation in North Tahoe/Truckee is funded through federal, state and local sources, she said in a follow-up interview.
Work will continue at the Greater North Lake Tahoe 2013 Transit Summit, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 7. at Truckee Tahoe Airport, located at 10356 Truckee Airport Road.
Topics will include discussion of the preliminary transit vision for the region, cost structure, vision funding options and next steps, among others. The summit is free to attend, with a $10 charge for lunch.
To attend, RSVP by Nov. 1 by emailing NLTRA Marketing Executive Assistant Anna Atwood at Anna@GoTahoeNorth.com, or calling 530-581-8722.