New Tahoe/Truckee transportation leader eyes regional system
TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Jaime Wright says she is excited to be a part of moving local public transit forward toward a regional system.
As the new executive director of the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, Wright will help the nonprofit fulfill its mission of fostering public-private partnerships and resources for the advocacy and promotion of innovative solutions to transportation challenges in the Truckee/North Lake Tahoe Resort Triangle.
This week, Wright sat down with the Bonanza to discuss the TMA, as well as the current state of transit in the region and its future.
Bonanza: What are your goals for the TMA and area transit in general?
Jaime Wright: In general, (it’s) to have one unified transit system with single branding. I think a goal for the TMA is obviously to be an instrumental piece in getting any kind of vision moved forward and actually on the road.
Bonanza: Do you have any specific ideas on how the TMA can be a part of that vision?
Wright: I think our experience and history with transit in the area is a benefiting factor, and then our willingness to step up to the plate and get the job done in order to fill the gaps is really what our strength is.
Bonanza: How would you describe the current state of transportation in the North Tahoe/Truckee region?
Wright: I would say the current state of transportation has come a long way since I was a kid growing up here (with just TART), but we do have a ways to go to get it to where I think we as a destination and region want it to be.
Bonanza: What would that future vision of area transit look like?
Wright: It’s very similar to what the (Resort Triangle Transportation) Vision Coalition is working on. It’s a regional system connecting our whole resort triangle, with service every half hour. Probably more frequent headways than we currently have, but also providing night service for the whole resort triangle … Ultimately, I would like a region where our guests didn’t need to bring a car or rent a car, and we have the infrastructure in place for them to get around and still utilize all of our amenities.”
Bonanza: What are some of the challenges in implementing that vision?
Wright: We always hear everybody wants it, but then no one understands that you have to pay for it. I think it’s more of just getting an understanding of how transit funding works and showing what we can get for our dollars in moving forward.
Bonanza: How close is the region now to that vision?
Wright: I think we’re a couple years off. I think it’s going to take us looking at how we can generate those revenues for a system of that nature.
Bonanza: What is being done today to make that vision a reality?
Wright: Right now we’re looking at our current system, we’re looking at where we want to go in the future, and we’re trying to figure out where we are going to fill that gap with revenue … So we’re still somewhat in the planning stages, but ultimately, we would like to be able to show the community what it looks like and get feedback on how we’re going to fill the gap to that vision.
Bonanza: Why do you think transportation is so important?
Wright: I think we have limited resources here, especially within the basin and the resort triangle in general. In providing a full-fledged transit system, you are creating a culture in which people won’t bring their vehicles, will park their cars. We’re creating less air pollution, less vehicle miles traveled and we’re ultimately making our roadways better to travel on.
Bonanza: How does transportation play into being a destination area?
Wright: I think it largely affects us as a destination. To be competing with somewhere like Summit County (Colo.) we need to really look at our transit system and how to make it better, but work for our destination as a whole.
Bonanza: On a lighter note, what’s your favorite local mode of transit?
Wright: My favorite mode these days is the water shuttle and a bicycle. It’s fun to get out on the water. A one-way trip down the West Shore and bicycling back is probably one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.