Truckee gives free shuttle second chance | SierraSun.com

Truckee gives free shuttle second chance

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun file photoBus driver Chace Paradise picks up passengers Elsie and Paul Valentine at Tahoe Forest Hospital in this file photo from March. Despite low ridership in the free service's inaugural year, Truckee will sponsor the night shuttle again this winter.
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Despite a disappointing number of riders during last year’s slow snow season, Truckee will give its winter evening shuttle service another chance starting Today.

But the town will shoulder more of the cost on its own this time.

Truckee introduced the free evening-hours route last year to transport visitors from their hotels into town for shopping and dinning, but the light winter weather resulted in lower ridership numbers than expected.

“Given the light winter the numbers were pretty good, but we thought we could do better,” said Alex Terrazas, assistant to the town manager.

Beyond the lack of snow, another challenge last year was getting the word out about the free service, said Melody Rebbeck, director of sales at the Best Western Truckee Tahoe Inn. That remains the challenge this year.

According to town reports, 2,330 individuals took advantage of the evening shuttle over the course of 115 days last winter.

“We don’t have a goal number for riders, we are just hoping for an increase,” Terrazas said.

Jan Colyer, executive director of Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, said she would like to see the numbers double, with a higher goal of about 6,000 riders.

Looking for a stronger winter season, Terrazas said this year’s service will be the same as last, making the shuttle a pilot project the town will evaluate before launching a more-permanent program.

While the town intended the shuttle service for tourists without cars, hotel employees were among those who took advantage of the service, Rebbeck said.

“It’s especially good for people who come up in the winter to work for the season, and I even take it to go to the Village at Northstar,” Rebbeck said.

Last year the town, the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association and a number of hotels, restaurants, and ski resorts partnered in providing the free service, putting together over $30,000 to pay for it.

The businesses that partnered with the town raised $23,500 of the funding, according to staff reports. But this year, the Town of Truckee will likely be footing the more than $37,000 bill alone, Terrazas said.

“(The Transportation Management Association) has talked with those same partners, and so far they have not come forward with any funding,” Terrazas said.

Colyer said instead she is asking for sponsors from local businesses, rather than having those businesses shoulder the majority of the funding.

Rebbeck said the businesses that participated last year pooled their funding to get the evening service kick-started, but said the benefits of the service are distributed beyond just the hotels.

“We pay (Transient Occupancy Tax) to the town, and we are looking to the town to support us,” Rebbeck said. “And we are thankful that they did.”

The Truckee Town Council approved the service at its meeting last week.

Funding will come from annual transit funds the town receives from the state, Terrazas said.