Tahoe-to-Truckee public bus route on tap to expand, become year-round | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-to-Truckee public bus route on tap to expand, become year-round

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
Will Garner, Placer County's TART Manager, talks in November about efforts to create one new brand for regional transit.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

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Visit placer.ca.gov/Departments/Works/transit/TART.aspx to view schedules and learn more about TART.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — A major North Tahoe-Truckee public transit system gap could soon be filled, providing an improved link to jobs, services and recreation that has been a decade in the making, officials said.

Tahoe Area Regional Transit’s Highway 267 summer service could extend into Truckee this year, and become year-round starting in 2016, dependent upon Placer County Board of Supervisors approval next month, said Will Garner, transit manager for the county.

Prior summer operations along Highway 267 included one bus, providing hourly service between Northstar California and Crystal Bay, through Kings Beach.

Under the new proposal, summer operations would include two buses running hourly from Crystal Bay to downtown Truckee from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

This option, which is identical to TART’s Highway 267 winter service, would start July 1, 2015, and end Sept. 7, Garner said.

“We feel it’s a step in the right direction, and one more win for those who rely on public transit,” said Jaime Wright, executive director of the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association.

Like previous years, the 267 service would cease this fall, resuming in mid-December with the winter schedule.

Starting next year, however, it would not suspend during the shoulder seasons, Garner said.

Providing year-round public transportation between Lake Tahoe and Truckee would be beneficial to locals and visitors, said Sandy Evans Hall, executive director of North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association.

“Currently, guests at Northstar are not able to take public transportation to Truckee for shopping or dining, Northstar employees living in Truckee are unable to use transit to get to work, (and) residents in Kings Beach must travel through Tahoe City in order to access health care providers in Truckee,” she said. “All of these populations will benefit from the addition of this service year round.”

The year-round service is estimated to cost an additional $620,000 annually, Garner said.

Recently, the Truckee Town Council and Truckee Tahoe Airport District board of directors each approved a three-year commitment of $62,500 annually to help fund the effort.

The remaining $495,000 would be covered by the county’s transportation fund, Federal Transit Administration funds and passenger fares, Garner said.

“We’re ready to finally launch this route that we’ve been planning for a decade,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the county’s preliminary budget, which includes the TART budget, on June 16, Garner said.

Year-round service on Highway 267 is part of larger vision to improve public transit within the Resort Triangle, which includes a bus running every 30 minutes and increasing hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. during peak seasons and eliminating rider fares.

“To achieve the transit vision of ‘fun, free, and frequent’ service, we still have lots to do,” Evans Hall said. “… Each of these will require additional funding in order to execute.”

That vision is estimated to cost $7.2 million annually — reportedly $2.9 million more than what is spent on the existing transit system.

The Resort Triangle Transportation Vision Coalition is working on identifying potential funding sources, Evans Hall said. An implementation timeline is currently unknown.