Bluego looks to reduce service | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Bluego looks to reduce service

Annie Flanzraich
aflanz@tahoedailytribune.com

Annie Flanzraich / Tahoe Daily TribuneLake Tahoe Community College students board the Route 53 BlueGO bus Thursday afternoon. The South Tahoe Area Transit Authority Board of Directors could vote today to reduce how often this route and others run to manage a $211,000 budget shortfall.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Some BlueGO trips may be a no go if the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority Board of Directors approves a revised schedule as part of cost savings initiative at its meeting today.

The South Tahoe public transit agency is trying to recoup a $211,000 budget shortfall, the result of less funding coming from the state of California, said John Andoh, BlueGO Transit Administrator.

A public hearing about the proposed reductions will be held at 1 p.m. today at the board’s regular meeting at 128 Market St. in Stateline.

This is the third time since May 2009 the board will look at reducing service levels.

To meet the $211,000, many California BlueGO routes will see a reduction in service and run times. Nevada BlueGO routes will not see the same reduction in service because they are funded by the state of Nevada and are not affected by the California shortfall. Nevada grant money cannot be used to fund California routes.

If the reductions are approved by the board, they will be reviewed and hopefully reversed when the agency begins a new fiscal year in July 2010, Andoh said.

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“Provided that the revenues have increased by then, it is our intention to go back to the (previous) schedule,” Andoh said.

Routes that could be affected by the new schedule include 22, 40, 50, 52, 53, 54, 55, Red 10, Orange 11, Green 12 and Blue 15. BlueGO OnCall will also be available for fewer hours during the week under the new plan.

Routes were chosen for reductions in two ways, Andoh said. First staff looked and which routes had lower ridership, then staff looked at which routes could be used to supplement other routes.

“We are still trying to provide basic mobility for those who need transit service,” Andoh said.

No routes have been completely eliminated or suspended, he said.

“If we did completely eliminate routes it would cause people to have to walk farther or use our OnCall service to get to where they need to go,” he said.

Much of the public feedback Andoh has received has been in regards to the reductions to Route 50, he said.

In the proposed plan, Route 50 will run its last trip from the South Y Transit Station at 6:45 p.m. and its last trip from the Kingsbury Transit center at 7:18 p.m. Currently the route runs from 5:45 a.m. to 10:45 p.m., seven days a week.

Instead of riding Route 50, passengers can use Red Route 10 for free or Route 55 for additional service along Highway 50, Andoh said.

“There are alternatives; it’s not like they are out of options – it is just going to require education,” he said.

If the measure is approved, transit staff will ride buses to talk with passengers and help them find new transportation options. The BlueGO online trip planner will also be revised to reflect the changes, Andoh said.

The route reductions will save the agency about $183,000. To make up the more than $27,000 remaining deficit, the agency will look at other options, Andoh said.

Those options include renegotiating its contract with MV Transportation Inc., which operates the BlueGO system for STATA. The agency will also look at reducing administration costs.

There also might be $1.5 million available to the agency, if the grants it applied for in October 2009 come through, Andoh said.

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