Truckee Town Council approves winter microtransit pilot program
TRUCKEE, Calif. — After having success this summer with a microtransit pilot program, the Truckee Town Council on Tuesday approved extending it for winter.
The Truckee TART Connect Summit Pilot Program was successful during the 73 days it operated this summer.
From June 25 to Sept. 5, a total of 19,528 passengers rode TART Connect which is a 131% increase over Truckee TART which served 8,441 passengers during this time frame.
The town’s transportation department surveyed riders and of those who responded, 59% identified as locals and 80% of the rides were for work, school or appointments.
The program cost $460,977 which breaks down to less than $24 per rider. Funding for the program came from American Rescue Plan Act, as well as from funds provided by the three services areas which include Glenshire, Tahoe Donner and the Downtown/Commercial Zone.
The winter program will run seven days a week from Dec. 15 – April 2. Five vehicles will be operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Staff originally recommended starting rides at 10 a.m. and running to 7 p.m. but because the majority of the rides are for work, school and appointment purposes, council asked for the rides to start earlier. Bars and restaurants pushed for the later end time so patrons could stay out later and still have a safe ride home.
The meeting began with a presentation by the Truckee Chamber of Commerce. The presentation marked the last day of CEO Lynn Saunders, who began her retirement upon completion of the meeting. The town honored her with a proclamation for her two decades of work and many kind words from the council.
Mayor Courtney Henderson also read several other proclamations, including ones recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month, Energy Awareness Month and Truckee River Day.
Council also introduced a new staff member, Erica Mertens who will serve as the Town’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Program Manager.
Following regular business, the council held another joint meeting with the Planning Commission regarding the 2040 General Plan.
Staff announced that the State of California passed the Middle Class Housing Act this week, which will require changes to policy within the General Plan. Staff needs more time with the bill before they can recommend changes.
The joint council and commission discussed land use and density changes to the Gateway Corridor to allow for in-fill housing. Councilmember Dave Polivy ultimately supported the change but expressed concerns that it could increase traffic pressure on an already congested area of town.
Commissioner Suzie Tarnay and Councilmember Jan Zabriskie both suggested that having housing so close to shopping and workplaces could inspire people to walk or take public transit, which in turn would lessen the pressures on Donner Pass Road.
“We need to think about how we can move people down Donner Pass Road in some other manner,” Zabriskie said.
They also discussed West River development, stating they want to look into ways to move industrial spaces off the river and better leverage the river lots, as well as street facing lots.
Finally, the joint council and commission expressed a desire to conduct less surveys and instead better leverage partners who are also collecting data on issues such as housing and transportation.
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