A ‘ferry’ good idea | SierraSun.com

A ‘ferry’ good idea

Jamie Bate

The most direct way between two points is a straight line. So getting from Lake Tahoe’s north shore to the south shore via the lake’s 72 miles of shoreline – punctuated by bays, coves and lousy traffic – can take awhile.Then there is the 22-mile straight shot. But unless you own a boat – or are an endurance swimmer – the most direct way between the north and south shores isn’t a viable route.But thanks to $8 million in federal funds – AKA our tax money – the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is looking to get a year-round passenger ferry boat service running that would connect the north and south shores. In addition to the $8 million, another $4 million has been promised for new buses that run on compressed natural gas.The ferry idea is intriguing. How many times have you thought of going to a concert at Stateline but dropped the idea after mulling over the drive? Or how about a day at Heavenly that was nixed because of sketchy roads? What about just shining the lake altogether because of RVs, boats being towed and looky-loos?While a lot of the details are still being worked out, Nick Haven, principal transportation planner at the TRPA, said such a ferry service “is not going to be a pleasure cruise.” It’s going to be point-to-point service. That’s fine in my book because any time you’re out on the lake it’s a scenic treat.At this point, planners are eyeing a 100- to 200-passenger hydrofoil type vessel that would cut a gentle wake so shoreline erosion isn’t a problem. With such a boat, target travel times between north and south are hoped to be about what it takes to drive from Tahoe City to South Lake Tahoe via the east shore, Haven said. And once at your destination, the system would have direct connections on land to city bus service.After poking along behind a behemoth fifth-wheel on the ascent out of Emerald Bay, anything to get me off the road is a welcome idea.Now all we have to do is get Union Pacific on track so the Capitol Corridor train service can be extended out of the valley to Truckee. Then we might have a truly comprehensive transportation system.Jamie Bate, editor of the Sierra Sun, can be reached at jbate@sierrasun.com.