10 bars on tap to sponsor free Truckee New Year’s Eve shuttle
This story has been updated from a previous version to clarify that the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and Truckee Tahoe Airport District each contributed $250 to fund this year’s shuttle.
Visit laketathoetransit.com for more information on shuttle locations and times.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Fueled by a successful trial run last year, Truckee is returning its free shuttle service for residents and visitors looking to ring in the new year.
What’s more, the program has extended its hours and expanded its services.
Last year, buses ran from 12:15 to 2:15 a.m. as a free-ride-home option. This year, the shuttles will travel to and from downtown Truckee essentially all night — between 7 p.m. Thursday, New Year’s Eve, and 2:30 a.m. Friday, New Year’s Day.
“Last year’s shuttle was designed only to get people home from downtown, where this year’s shuttle provides rides in both directions,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “And it’s earlier in the evening, so you can make a whole night of it, and late enough to get everyone home.”
Four buses — from Reno Tahoe Limousine, with whom the town is contracting — will each drive a designated route, broken into the following areas: Sierra Meadows/Northstar California, Prosser/Glenshire, Tahoe Donner/Squaw Valley, and Donner Lake/Donner Summit.
Additionally, the town is providing an ADA accessible vehicle with a lift that will be dispatched on an as-needed basis.
“The benefit is it gets people from all of our neighborhoods in to town to celebrate the new year,” Lashbrook said. “Obviously, if you’ve been around town this week, you’ve noticed parking is at a premium.
“Also, driving after celebrating and drinking is not a good idea — so for all those reasons we’re bringing back the service.”
Another benefit, Lashbrook said, is use of the free shuttles should hinder people from leaving their cars parked downtown overnight and potentially “blocking snow removal operations in this active winter pattern.”
In its inaugural run last year, 257 passengers took advantage of the free service.
“We would be pleased if we doubled our ridership from last year, but hope for more,” Lashbrook said.
In all, this New Year’s Eve shuttle service costs roughly $5,800 to fund, said Assistant Town Manager Alex Terrazas
The town is supplying $3,300; the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and Truckee Tahoe Airport District are contributing $250 apiece; and the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association and 10 downtown restaurant/bars are splitting the remaining $2,000.
Establishments that are contributing to the program include 1882 Bar & Grill; Bar of America; Best Pies Pizzeria; El Toro Bravo; Marg’s Taco Bistro; Mellow Fellow; Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats; Pastime Club; Tourist Club; and Pizza Bar.
Doug Caveney, operations manager of Pizza Bar and Marg’s Taco Bistro, said he’s glad the free shuttle service is back for New Year’s.
“It really provides downtown Truckee a chance to be a destination for the night,” Caveney said. “So people can come out, party, and not have to worry. Safety’s always a factor, of course … inclement weather, of course, is always a factor.
“It’s a great thing for guests to be able to come out, not have to worry about weather, not have to worry about transportation, and for a night, if only, it feels like you’re in the city.”
Keith Diesner, owner of Pastime Club, echoed that sentiment.
“This gives people an opportunity to come downtown and enjoy all the establishments,” Diesner said. “And it’s promoting a safe and easy way to get downtown and get back home.
“It’s increasingly difficult to find a taxi,” Diesner continued. “Just with the sheer volume of people, it’s an amazing and excellent opportunity to have a fun evening without worrying how you have to get home.”
Bryan Powell, bartender at Mellow Fellow, said last year the shuttle service was especially helpful in getting customers home in a timely manner.
“Usually by the end of the night, everybody’s trying to call taxis, and this makes it easier for us,” Powell said. “Obviously, taxi businesses are pretty swamped all night, so it’s good to have the public transportation.”
NORTH LAKE TAHOE
Meanwhile, at Lake Tahoe, the free Night Rider shuttle that offers transportation to Tahoma, Sunnyside, Granlibakken, Homewood, Tahoe City, Squaw Valley, Northstar, Kings Beach and Crystal Bay launched its winter service in mid-December.
The free service, which lasts until April 3, 2016, typically offers rides between 7 p.m. and anywhere from 12:30 to 2 p.m., depending on location.
According to the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, the Night Rider expanded this year with Tahoe-Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) now operating it, by offering larger buses with more capacity.
Further, the free shuttle operates until 2 a.m. across the region on New Year’s Day, during which the Squaw Valley, Crystal Bay and West Shore buses transfer at the Tahoe City Transit Center.