Tahoe ferry, BlueGo might get $12 million from feds
August 2, 2005
Tahoe is poised to receive upward of $12 million for transportation after Congress approved a funding bill for the nation’s highways last week.
Of the money, $4 million is earmarked for replacing BlueGo’s fleet with buses that run on compressed natural gas. There is a natural gas fueling station at the Lake Tahoe Airport.
Another $8 million is slated for a passenger ferry boat service designed to connect the North and South shores.
President Bush must still sign the legislation into law.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, acting as the region’s metropolitan planning organization, sought the money with support from the Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada’s senators and state representatives, said Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the agency.
“We became an MPO in the region to be able to qualify for those types of dollars,” Regan said.
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Additional steps are needed to secure the funding, which was added into the bill by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as an additional appropriation to $1.3 billion secured for Nevada over the next five years. The money will be funneled to and administered by the TRPA, according to the senator’s office.
A passenger ferry service in Tahoe has been in the works for a while.
The $8 million will most likely kickstart planning and design for a system with direct connections on land to city bus service, said Nick Haven, principal transportation planner at the TRPA.
Haven said they are aiming for three goals for a ferry service: a reasonable fare, a service time that is comparable to an auto trip and a boat with clean fuel-burning technology.
They are looking into a solar-powered hybrid boat designed in Australia. Information on the boat is available at Solarsailor.com.
“Although it’s transit, I’m sure the ride would be attractive,” Haven said, but he stressed there would be no detours to places like Emerald Bay. “It’s a serious point-to-point service.”
BlueGo buses are old, and as they wear out, they will be replaced with vehicles that run on natural gas, a cleaner-burning fuel.
“This 4 million will go a long way to replacing the dirtiest vehicles we have on the road,” said Haven.
Ultimately, TRPA’s transportation department is focusing on connecting all transit in the region, so that a passenger doesn’t have to connect the dots with another ride in a car.
For instance, one of the goals is coordinating with airport shuttle services to have the option of dropping a passenger at the transit center near Stateline, where they can catch a bus home.
“Seamless regional service is the goal,” Haven said.