TAHOE/TRUCKEE - Visitors and locals can take advantage of a free shuttle service this winter that will travel among many of the North Shore's ski resorts, adding to the area's public transit options.
The North Lake Tahoe Truckee Coordinated Ski Shuttle will launch as a pilot program this winter, running Dec. 22 to March 31 on weekends and holiday weeks for a total of 46 days, carrying passengers to and from area ski resorts free of charge, officials said.
"I think this is going to be great for the community," said Jaime Wright, program manager for the Truckee/North Tahoe Transportation Management Association. "I think at this point it's somewhat of a pilot to see how it goes, but I think it's only going to show everybody how working together, coordinating transit in the area can really benefit everyone as a whole."
The final price tag for the pilot won't be known until the bidding process for an operator is complete, said Jan Colyer, executive director for TMA.
Helping fund the program is the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association through local Transient Occupancy Tax funds, along with Truckee Tahoe Airport, Northstar California, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Homewood Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak Ski Resort, the town of Truckee and other lodging partners outside of Placer County, Wright said.
"We are coordinating it with the Donner Ski Shuttle that is currently in place, which Sugar Bowl, Boreal, Soda Springs and Royal Gorge all have a part in paying funding for," she said. "So to connect to the rest of the triangle, we will make connections with the other ski shuttle."
The pilot shuttle is "great for North Lake Tahoe," said Andrew Baird, marketing manager for Diamond Peak.
"It gives a way for guests to go to and from all the different resorts without having to drive," he said.
Chevis Hosea, Squaw Valley's vice president of development, shared a similar view.
"Squaw Valley is excited to be a part of regional strategies to improve transportation conditions in the North Tahoe-Truckee area," she said. "We believe the skier shuttle will improve our guest's experience, while also helping to improve our communities by providing convenient new mobility options. It enhances visitors' ability to experience all that the region has to offer, while avoiding the hassle of driving in winter conditions."
The shuttle will have six buses along with the two buses from Truckee's Donner Summit Shuttle in its fleet, with each having a minimum of 35 seats and room for carry-on equipment, Colyer said.
As for service hours and headway times, Wright said those still are being decided, although both morning and afternoon runs are likely.
Other details are still being ironed out, Colyer said.
"We're in the process of developing collateral, fine-tuning the schedule and finding an operator," she said.
Colyer went on to say the shuttle is designed with skiers and riders in mind to provide them with essentially a door-to-door service to the area's various mountain resorts.
"Everyone we've talked to is really enthusiastic about the concept," she said.
Colyer said the shuttle program will be studied closely to see if it should be continued next winter.
For more information about the shuttle, call Colyer at 530-546-2912 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.