Working on regional transportation |

Working on regional transportation

A bus pulls into the Tahoe City Transit Center on Aug. 8, 2016.
Amanda Rhoades/Sierra Sun |

Lake Tahoe is one step closer to improving its public transportation system.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board approved the 2017 Regional Transportation Plan on Wednesday, April 28 during their meeting at TRPA’s office in Stateline, Nev.

“We appreciate the enormous public response and involvement in the plan and about the topic of transportation,” said TRPA Senior Transportation Planner Morgan Beryl in a statement. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with all our partners to transform transportation at Lake Tahoe.”

The Regional Transportation Plan is updated every four years and serves as a blueprint for upcoming transit improvements. The last plan, created in 2012, was aimed at creating transit-friendly community centers that could also be easily accessed on foot or by bicycle.

The updated 2017 plan focuses on improving public transit, filling gaps in the region’s trail system, and utilizing technology to provide real-time estimates on bus arrival times, parking space availability and optimizing signals on U.S. Route 50 to improve traffic flow.

“For transit, the major things I think are trying to integrate the North Shore and South Shore services,” TRPA spokesperson Tom Lotshaw said in an interview with the Sierra Sun. “That includes halving down the service frequencies from an hour to 30 minutes, and in the longer term going down to every 15 minutes.”

In addition to making the buses run more frequently, Lotshaw said the plan also identifies a need to expand service to Meyers, and launch recreational transit service to popular areas like Emerald Bay.

“The other major thing is funding,” Beryl told the Sierra Sun. “The governing board is forming a bi-state task force that’ll look at what the priorities are and try to figure out what are some of the various funding mechanisms that can be used to deliver.”

Another project Beryl said that TRPA is working on is developing programs that will incentivize people to walk, ride a bike or take public transportation instead of driving. She said that programs would be created for both visitors and residents.

“The visitor traffic is really an issue during the peak times, but the resident traffic is also an issue so there has to be progress made on both of those fronts,” Lotshaw added.

The plan calls for 20 miles of new bicycle and pedestrian shared-use trails to be built, which would fill gaps in the lake-wide network, by the year 2021.

Lotshaw said the funding for the trail improvements has already been secured.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of connections in a lot of our shared-use paths fairly quickly,” he said.

Other projects, however, may not be as simple. As the Sierra Sun previously reported, $1.6 million of the plan’s estimated $40 million cost has been funded.

“I think funding is and always has been a concern,” Lotshaw said. “For decades up here, our funding was only awarded to us according to our 55,000 residents in a rural location … that formula was changed, but it’s not going to solve all of our problems. We need to be very serious and proactive in working with the states and the counties … that’s part of that bi-state transportation funding task force.”

Amanda Rhoades is a news, environment and business reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at or 530-550-2653. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @akrhoades.