TAHOE CITY, Calif. - The North Lake Tahoe Express Water Shuttle will return next summer, but possibly with a few minor tweaks based on passenger feedback.
The water shuttle, a pilot program that ran from Aug. 3 to Sept. 30 last summer servicing the North and West shores, received generally positive feedback from riders, said Gordon Shaw, principal of LSC Transportation Consultants, a company that provides consulting services in transportation planning and traffic engineering.
Of the 1,223 riders this past summer, those surveyed suggested the shuttle run past 8 p.m., mainly for dinner trips; that better signage be placed at shuttle departure sites; the shuttle accept non-reservations; and for more boats and stops to be added, he said.
"The big question is should we do two boats next year?" Shaw asked. "My conclusion is let's get it straight with one."
Other suggestions Shaw offered Thursday morning to the Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, which handles the shuttle's day-to-day operations, were:
• Having service hours be from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. instead of approximately 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., based on low ridership that first hour and rider requests for a later evening service.
• Accepting non-reservations and providing a discounted rate for those riders due to a return trip not being guaranteed. This past summer, reservations were required and could be made minutes before shuttle departure.
• Having a swipe square card block so credit cards can be accepted for payment, limiting the boat's crew of having to deal with cash.
• Making all stops the same fare. This past summer, fares for the North and West Shore were $10 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under each way, and $20 and $14, respectively, to go from one shore to the other.
• Providing service from the end of June through September.
Shaw said these changes, especially the first two, may increase ridership on the modified 30-foot Centurion boat that has room to carry up to 12 passengers, the crew, up to eight bikes and a wheelchair, and is operated by Fine Line Industries.
This summer, approximately $11,000 in revenue was generated from ridership fares, while the entire program - everything from the boat to marketing - cost $183,800, Shaw said.
Taking the total program cost and dividing it by the number of passengers, each passenger trip ended up costing about $150, which is a "sobering number," Shaw said.
The shuttle is funded through Placer County Transient Occupancy Tax/North Lake Tahoe Chamber/CVB/Resort Association and sponsored by the Tahoe Transportation District, with contract management by TMA.
For more information on the shuttle, visit www.northlaketahoewatershuttle.com.