Tahoe transportation report: 30 percent bus ridership decline from Jan. 2010 to ’09 | SierraSun.com

Tahoe transportation report: 30 percent bus ridership decline from Jan. 2010 to ’09

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; Leveling gas prices and fewer international workers living locally are leading causes to a 30 percent drop in bus ridership along Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, officials said.

The Tahoe Area Regional Transit system in January 2010 saw 30 percent fewer riders compared to the same month a year ago, and overall ridership has fallen 10 percent to 20 percent in the last six months.

and#8220;Weand#8217;re still up higher than we were three or four years ago, but itand#8217;s something weand#8217;re going to keep a close eye on,and#8221; said Placer County Public Works Manager Will Garner, who presented a January 2010 ridership report at last week’s Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association meeting.

The biggest January drop came from the West Shore at 41 percent, according to the report. North Shore routes on Highway 28 also showed a significant loss at 38 percent. Routes from Truckee to Tahoe City had the third largest drop at 29 percent.

The other routes, from the state line to Incline Village and routes along Highway 267 reported lower monthly declines at 22 percent and 16 percent respectively.

and#8220;This is a sobering dose of realityand#8221; said TMA president Steve Teshara. and#8220;Itand#8217;s clearly a reflection on the level of employment which has declined in the past year and a half and the type of workers who are filling those jobs.and#8221;

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Teshara said in recent years thereand#8217;s been a spike in foreign workers needing transportation to get to their jobs at local resorts; now, Tahoe residents are filling those jobs and donand#8217;t need the transportation.

Garner also added lower gas prices are another factor potentially discouraging ridership since gas dropped back into the $3 range.

Teshara said TMA will look for ways to expand numbers, whether it be through incentives such as promotional bus passes or other programs.

and#8220;Our job is to broaden our education and marketing activities so the ridership numbers donand#8217;t continue to decline,and#8221; he said.

Despite shortfalls, TMA also reported high ridership for two programs including its free Winter Night Rider program and the North Lake Tahoe Express airport shuttles. The heavily demanded Night Rider program was slightly up for the month at about 12,500 riders, with NLTE up by 20 percent, at 2,500 riders.