Transportation officials plan cuts for winter service
In an effort to make more transit options available to area residents and visitors this winter, members of the Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association sat down with representatives from area resorts, the Town of Truckee, Nevada and Placer Counties, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Aztec Transportation Monday.
At issue was the expanded wintertime Truckee Trolley and TART bus service on four major routes used by Truckee and North Tahoe riders. During the past three winters, additional roundtrip bus service has been added on the Truckee to Tahoe City, Truckee to Northstar, Northstar to Kings Beach and Truckee to Sugar Bowl routes.
The expanded service is designed to allow resort employees and visitors alike to get to area resorts without having to drive. Since many of the seasonal employees that local resorts hire during the wintertime do not have their own cars, often they must rely on transit or carpooling to get to and from work.
Because of the need to get employees to work and the convenience to area visitors, many area resorts are willing to help subsidize the cost of the expanded transit routes.
Traditionally, the added cost of the expanded transit services has been shared by the NLTRA, the Town of Truckee, Placer and Nevada Counties and area resorts. However, due to budget shortfalls this year, many stakeholders are struggling to come up with the money to cover the projected costs of the expanded service.
In particular, Nevada County has said that, due to budget constraints, it will be unable to make its usual contribution-last winter almost $15,800-to the Truckee to Sugar Bowl route this year. This left representatives from the Sugar Bowl Planning and Development office and the Town of Truckee struggling to make up the gap.
According to Paul Borcherding, a Project Manager in the Sugar Bowl Planning and Development office, the Truckee to Sugar Bowl route has seen a continued growth in ridership during the past three years the service has been offered. Ridership tallies provided by the TNT/TMA indicate that total passenger trips during the wintertime has gone from 12,680 during the winter of 2000-2001, to 13,798 in 2001-2002, to 15,866 last winter.
Borcherding and Town of Truckee representative Alex Terrazas both feel that the shuttle provides a valuable resource to skiers, Sugar Bowl employees and the general public and are considering ways to keep it running this season.
Starting the service a couple of weeks later than last year-Dec. 12 rather than Nov. 22-and potentially trimming routes from the end-of-season schedule should allow the shuttle to operate without service cutbacks during the rest of winter.
“We’re really excited to see this thing go and we’re really appreciative of the community’s support of the program,” Borcherding said.
The two Northstar routes are also looking at cutbacks from last year’s service. Like the Sugar Bowl route, operators plan to start the expanded shuttle service on Dec. 12 and end it Mar. 31, cutting almost three weeks off each end of last winter’s expanded service period.
On the Northstar to Kings Beach route, stakeholders are also considering cutting the total number of daily trips-eliminating busses that run during off-peak hours.
The Truckee to Tahoe City TART service also plans on continuing to provide expanded winter service. Two additional round-trips between Truckee and Tahoe City are planned for the mornings with one additional one-way trip from Tahoe City in the evening.
With by far the largest number of stakeholders on the Highway 89 route, it appears that the service will be fully funded. The expanded service, which is also projected to start on Dec. 12 and run through Apr. 11, is projected to cost $43,892 according to figures provided by Will Garner, Placer County Senior Transportation Systems Supervisor.
Of those projected costs, approximately $6,100 will be met by fares, $16,200 by Placer County and $5,000 by the Town of Truckee, leaving $16,592 for other stakeholders on this route to cover. Based on anticipated contributions by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and resorts on the Highway 89 corridor, these costs should be covered, and the expanded service up and running this winter.
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