East Shore Express running this summer | TahoeDailyTribune.com

East Shore Express running this summer

Tahoe Transportation District's East Shore Express, a park-and-ride bus service from Incline Village to Sand Harbor, will continue summer operations for a third consecutive year due to a federal grant and Lake Tahoe license plate funds. Tahoe Transportation District implemented the service to deal with traffic congestion, promote safety and reduce environmental impacts along Nevada's State Route 28 corridor. More than 70 percent of the pollutants contributing to Lake Tahoe's clarity loss come from the existing transportation systems and developed areas. Riding the bus can reduce emissions as well as road-use erosion, improving air and water quality. Buses will operate from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., running every 20 minutes, May 31 to June 29 on weekends only. Daily operations begin June 30 and conclude Sept. 1. Round-trip fare costs $3 per person and $1.50 for children 12 and under, seniors and disabled passengers. Fares include admission to Sand Harbor. Passengers transferring from Tahoe Area Regional Transit pay $1 with a transfer. The service utilizes a dedicated entrance to keep traffic moving and drops passengers at the Visitor's Center near the main beach. Parking inside Sand Harbor is $10 per vehicle for Nevada residents and $12 for out-of-state motorists. The East Shore Express loops from the old Incline Village Elementary School on the corner of Highway 28 and Southwood Boulevard to Sand Harbor. TART passengers are able to connect to the East Shore Express at the TART stop located east of Village Boulevard. The Washoe Regional Transportation Commission has also added a weekend route from Reno (Legends Outlet Mall) to Sand Harbor. In its 2012 inaugural season, the East Shore Express shuttled 12,155 passengers between June and Labor Day. In 2013, there was a 15 percent increase with 13,981 riders. The service was initiated by the TTD in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Division of State Parks, Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada Highway Patrol and Washoe County School District. The Federal Transit Administration awarded Tahoe Transportation District $120,000 and Lake Tahoe License Plate Funds provided an additional $80,000 to cover costs for the East Shore Express to operate. More than 1 million visitors recreate annually in the state Route 28 corridor, but with limited parking in many areas the situation has resulted in pedestrians crossing into busy travel lanes in both directions. In 2012, the Nevada Division of State Parks ended walk-in visitation. Drop-offs and parking are illegal along the highway at Sand Harbor. The no-parking zone extends about three-fourths of a mile in both directions from the park's main entrance and parking there can result in a fine. The East Shore Express is a component of the SR 28 Corridor Management Plan, a community-based action strategy to preserve and promote the unique characteristics of this National Scenic Byway. The plan includes 13 local, state and federal agencies in a cooperative effort to manage the corridor. It is designed to improve safety, access for emergency vehicles, alleviate congested roadways and reduce vehicle emissions. For details on Tahoe Transportation District and its current projects, go to http://www.TahoeTransportation.org, or call 775-589-5500.

TTD assumes daily transit system operations

Tahoe Transportation District assumed daily operations of the bus transit system in South Lake Tahoe Friday, July 1. The system of 42 buses currently accounts for more than 800,000 trips annually throughout the South Shore of Lake Tahoe on both sides of the state line and includes local fixed-route and commuter bus service connecting the area with Carson City and the Carson Valley. Service also includes winter ski shuttles, summer trolley service to Emerald Bay and Tahoe City, and summer bus service from Incline Village and Stateline to Sand Harbor. While existing routes and fares will remain the same, TTD is surveying the public at http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/transitintahoe through Friday, July 10, and the results will factor into the 2017 vision for an interregional transit system that provides safe, reliable and attractive service for Tahoe residents, visitors and commuters. TTD is focusing on the goal of increasing ridership, which in turn will result in less vehicles on the road. Automobiles are the major source of emissions that pollute the air and fuel algae growth in the lake. A previous study indicated that over 70 percent of the particulates impacting Lake Tahoe's famed water clarity originate from the transportation system and land development. TTD directly operating transit instead of a private operator results in a more efficient use of public funds and a focus on service to the community. Direct operation enables TTD to evaluate the fleet's maintenance and operations, and implement timely solutions. It also links the staff directly to the community, providing higher accountability and consistent service delivery. TTD is currently recruiting experienced drivers and mechanics to join its team. To apply, visit http://www.tahoetransportation.org. The evolving transit system will be recognized as "TTD" as it moves from the expired operations and maintenance contract and previous "BlueGo" moniker. The transition includes a recently negotiated driver contract that was ratified unanimously, as well as employee training sessions emphasizing safety, service and public operations. "Providing convenient, safe, dependable, affordable, and environmentally friendly transportation that connects communities throughout the Basin is essential to the economic health of the Lake Tahoe region," said Carl Hasty, district manager for Tahoe Transportation District. "We plan to design and build a world-class system for a world-class destination." With funding through El Dorado County's portion of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Funds, TTD has been able to expand its free summer ride program to include heavily traveled routes 50 and 53 in South Lake Tahoe daily throughout July and weekends until Labor Day. The West Shore Trolley has expanded service to Tahoe City this year as a result of a low-carbon transit operation program from California's Cap-and-Trade Program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public-private partnerships will continue to expand and offer safe and efficient options to get riders to their destinations, including year-round service to and from Heavenly Mountain Resort. TTD is also working with the City of South Lake Tahoe to provide guests information at the Explore Tahoe Center near Heavenly Village on how to utilize public transit to recreational attractions. A new mobile app will be available by end of summer for visitors and residents to find out when the next bus will arrive and plan their trip, whether taking transit, walking, biking or connecting with ride-share services. Tahoe Transportation District's long-term vision is to complete a transit system connecting South Lake Tahoe communities with North Lake Tahoe communities via a cross-lake, year-round, high-speed passenger ferry. Concurrently, TTD will promote enhanced inter-regional public transit connections, which will reduce congestion as well as benefit the economy, safety, environment, water quality and convenience in each community. Bringing the goal to fruition will involve collaboration with Tahoe Area Regional Transit operated by Placer County, and ongoing involvement from the communities to be served. In other TTD news: The East Shore Express, a park and ride bus from Incline Village to Sand Harbor, will continue summer operations for a fifth consecutive year with a new route from the South Shore to Sand Harbor this season. Daily buses from Incline Village run every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Sept. 5. A new additional route this summer is South Shore service from Kingsbury Transit Center in Stateline, Nevada, with a morning pickup at 8:45 a.m. and an evening drop off at 7:45 p.m. The roundtrip fare is $3 per person and $1.50 for children 12 and under, seniors and disabled passengers. Fares include admission to Sand Harbor. For details on TTD and current projects, visit http://www.tahoetransportation.org or contact Carl Hasty, district manager, at chasty@tahoetransportation.org, 775-589-5501.

Tahoe transportation: Sand Harbor shuttle successful, may see changes, officials say

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Despite the East Shore Express getting off to a slow start in the first of two trial years, ridership numbers picked up by the end, having officials declare the shuttle an overall success. The Incline Village shuttle bus, which traveled to and from Sand Harbor State Park, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in 20-minute intervals between June 15 and Labor Day, saw between zero and a 186 riders a day before the Fourth of July, which saw ridership jump to a summer high of 1,430, according to statistics from the Tahoe Transportation District. Weekends, Fourth of July week and the three-day Labor Day weekend were the busiest, transporting hundreds of passengers daily to Lake Tahoe’s busiest beach and boat launch area, where as weekdays saw traditionally low ridership, with numbers often in the double digits. The total number of riders on the East Shore Express this year was 12,155, with its last weekend of operations, Labor Day weekend, seeing 81,593 and 301 passengers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, respectively. “For a pilot program, it was very successful,” said Curtis Garner, transit manager for TTD. “We were happy with the ridership, the lessened congestion along the corridor (of Highway 28) and customer satisfaction scores were really good, so people who used it, liked it.” According to previous reports, the shuttle was created to ease congestion on Highway 28 and its shoulders around Sand Harbor, help Tahoe’s clarity by reducing the number of idling cars on Highway 28 and the amount sediment run-off from vehicles parking on the highway’s shoulders, and improve safety along the corridor, especially for pedestrians and bicyclists. Jay Howard, park supervisor of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, which includes Sand Harbor, said the shuttle has improved safety on Highway 28 “vastly.” Sand Harbor has 615 parking spots, said Howard, adding that creating additional parking in the park isn’t an option due to Sand Harbor being “pretty much built out.” “So when we close on those busy days, there’s usually still literally hundreds of people out there that still want to come in, so in the past – and this has been happening for the last several decades – people park out there on the highway and they walk in,” he said. That proved to be a safety hazard for both pedestrians and drivers. “(It’s) a narrow highway where people drive fast and there’s curves and there’s no sidewalks, and you have people – families and kids and moms pushing strollers and people pushing barbecues and lugging coolers – out there with this high level of traffic,” he said. Howard said Sand Harbor had wanted to issue a no walk-in policy for years, but didn’t want turn people away since it’s a public park. “We felt there needed to be some alternative way for people to get in if we were going to take that more extreme step of not allowing walk-ins,” he said. Then came the East Shore Express. For a fare of $3, and $1.50 for children, seniors and those disabled, locals and visitors could use the shuttle to enter Sand Harbor once it was full without having to pay the park’s entrance fee. Sand Harbor used to charge all walk-ins $1 for entry, which generated approximately $10,000 a year for the state park, Howard said. “We thought it (the shuttle) was such a good idea that that we basically said the money paid to ride the bus can stay with them (the Tahoe Transportation District),” he said. Garner said rider fees go toward covering shuttle operations, such as gas and vehicle maintenance, since the shuttle program received $200,000 in grant funding this past year. The combination of the existence of the shuttle, the park not allowing walk-ins this summer, converting the park’s exit lane into an entrance lane during busy entry times, and better signage indicating the existence of no-parking zone on both sides of the highway from Memorial Point and the Incline Village General Improvement District’s pumping station, made Highway 28 a lot quieter this summer, according to Howard. “It was kind of like a ghost town out there on the highway this summer,” he said. “It was great.” The East Shore Express is a two-year pilot project that’s part of a long-term revitalization plan that pledges to streamline traffic flow and enhance the environmental and recreational assets along Highway 28 between Incline and the U.S. Highway 50 intersection at Spooner Summit. The shuttle will return next summer, perhaps with a few modifications, Garner said. Some ideas being considered include: starting service later in the summer instead of mid-June, since 15 of the 16 days of service didn’t exceed double digits, or operating only on weekends. “We’re going to take what we’ve learned and collectively decide how we want to approach next year,” Garner said. To learn more about the East Shore Express, visit: tahoetransportation.org.

Not as many laps for bus service

The Lake Lapper will be making fewer rounds in Tahoe under a proposed budget by the Tahoe Transportation District. The transit agency’s executive director Richard Hill plans to recommend that the Lake Lapper scale back its service at Friday’s TTD board meeting at 10 a.m. in South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers. The budget will preserve most of the transit services in the basin such as the Nifty Fifty Trolley, which was previously threatened by cuts. But the Lake Lapper’s current level of operation will be adversely affected if the budget is adopted. Hill is suggesting that the Lake Lapper, the bus system that circles the lake, run 12 hours a day, Thursday through Sunday. Currently, the Lapper operates 18 hours every day of the week. The number of “loop” trips would be reduced to four instead of the usual seven. Also on the chopping block would be the Lapper’s weekend night service that has seen success in the past. The Lapper has lost a two-year, Caltrans demonstration grant that produced a gaping hole in the Lapper budget, estimated at roughly 50 percent. “We rearranged our fiscal scenarios to keep the Lapper running,” Hill said. “Unfortunately, our subsidy has gone away and it has been difficult to maintain funding for all of our projects.” Previous draft budget proposals seen by transit officials nearly took funding away from other systems. Last week, TTD tentatively announced that $25,000 projected for the Nifty 50 Trolley wouldn’t be jeopardized. Hill confirmed that fact on Thursday and said last year’s allocation, $50,000, will remain intact. The Lapper, however, wasn’t as fortunate. Hill said he will have a “full-court press” for funding between now and March, when the district re-visits the fiscal outlook. The Lapper will rely largely on revenues from farebox receipts and rental car mitigation fees. “The cutback addresses the reality there is a lack of available funding sources out there,” Hill said. “We have to maintain the Lapper’s continuity, but it doesn’t meet all of our objectives.” breakout box What: Tahoe Transportation District meeting When: Friday, 10 a.m. Where: South Lake Tahoe Council Chambers Why: Pending approval of ’97-’98 budget

Moving billboard designed locally

A South Shore graphics design company is displaying its work in a big way. Meyers-based Charter Advertising/Design, Inc. created the artwork for four new Tahoe Casino Express buses. Charter has worked on many outdoor advertising venues but nothing quite like the bus designs applied to a vinyl wrap that is then affixed to the buses. “This type of media is new to us,” said Bruce Rettig, owner of Charter Advertising. “We’re really excited to get this (contract).” Charter has designed one other wrap which requires computer files to be life-sized. “It’s definitely the largest in size we’ve ever done,” Rettig said. A group effort, the company designed the bus wraps as a photographic mural for that exemplifies the activities available during Tahoe’s four seasons. The wraps incorporate a spring-summer design on one side of each bus and a fall-winter design on the other. Printed on adhesive-backed vinyl, the wrap was applied to the buses by Sacramento-based Ferrari Color. The design process began with the purchase of four 56-passenger MCI Renaissance luxury coaches by Frontier Tours., which operates the Tahoe Casino Express service for the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance. The alliance owns the bus service connecting South Shore casinos with the Reno/Tahoe International Airport. Developing a design for a brand new bus had some perks. “Having new coaches was like having a fresh canvas on which to create,” said Steve Teshara, executive director of the gaming alliance. “With this purchase, we had a chance to do something fresh on a whole vehicle.” The time-consuming application takes about a day per bus. Such vinyl wraps, as opposed to applying paint directly to a vehicle, are gaining in popularity on Bay Area mass-transit vehicles. Tahoe Casino Express has carried more than 1 million passengers since it began service in August 1991. Although passenger numbers have taken a hit due to a reduction of airline service to the Reno, numbers remain strong. “Because there are fewer people at the airport, it’s effected our ridership,” Teshara said. “Despite the trend, we have had months in which we’ve bucked the trend.” The new buses, which replace four of six older vehicles, hit the road last month. Several times a day, the billboard bus can be seen by hundreds of thousands of people enroute between Reno to Stateline.

Scaramento bus service to be studied

The Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority Board of Directors tonight will consider proposals to research the possibility of providing bus service to and from Sacramento similar to the Tahoe Casino Express service to Reno. Three consulting firms have submitted proposals for the research. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Lakeside Inn & Casino. In other business, the board is expected to approve the appointment of Jim Rafferty, of Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino, to fill the board seat vacated by Kevin Servatius. The budget for the fiscal year 1999-2000 that begins in July will be discussed along with a marketing opportunity with Reno Air and a request for funding for the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center. For more information, call the TDVA office at (775) 586-0047.

Hardrockers seek volunteers

The Tahoe Hardrockers, like the U.S. Marine Corps, are looking for a few good men and women to volunteer their services to the handicapped. The Tahoe Hardrockers have constructed trails around Lake Tahoe, viewing areas, causeways and changed campsites to allow a person in a wheelchair to enjoy the outdoors. “Since we have worked for the past 10 years to accomplish these things we have pretty much nailed down the process. We have been asked to assist the Nevada Conservation Corps in building a 11/2-mile trail from Sand Harbor State Park to the Memorial Point rest area on State Route 28 on the east side of Lake Tahoe and work began June 18,” said Charlie Smith of the Tahoe Hardrockers. Volunteers are needed for the project from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days a week. They may work anywhere from one hour to days or weeks and are covered by workers compensation insurance. Volunteers meet at 8 a.m. at Sand Harbor State Park on State Route 89 to catch the bus to the work area. “We do have a 501(c) 3 nonprofit status and we gratefully accept all contributions of time or money. We suggest all volunteers maintain a mileage and expense log as these expenses are tax deductible,” Smith said. For more information contact Smith at the Tahoe Hardrockers via any of the following: phone, (530) 541-4594; e-mail, info@Tahoehardrockers.com; Web site, http://www.Tahoehardrockers.com; or mail, P.O. Box 17942, South Lake Tahoe, CA 95151.

Ski employee bus crash kills 1, injures 27

A ski resort’s employee shuttle bus crashed on the main highway through California’s Sierra Nevada, near Tahoe, on Saturday, killing a passenger and injuring 27 others, authorities said. The bus operated by the Resort at Squaw Creek veered off the road, “struck a guardrail and rolled several times” before stopping in a ditch along Interstate 80, about 20 miles west of Reno, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Skeen. Some of the 30 or so people aboard were thrown from the bus, Skeen said. One was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver suffered “moderate to major” injuries and was being interviewed by officers, he said. Kevin Romero, a spokesman for ambulance service REMSA, said 27 people were taken to hospitals in Reno and Truckee, Calif. The most severely injured were taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where one was listed in critical condition and six were in serious condition, said hospital spokesw oman Nicole Shearer. They suffered head injuries, broken bones and bruises, she said. The bus was transporting employees from Reno to the upscale resort north of Lake Tahoe when the accident occurred, said company spokesman Les Pedersen. “The driver had a very good record,” he said. “The bus had no mechanical problems that I’m aware of.” The names of the driver and passengers were not immediately released. Bella Fritz, a passer-by from Sparks, described seeing passengers at the scene before authorities arrived. “One guy was stuck under the bus,” she told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I ran back and got a blanket and covered one lady who had flown out of it and hit her head on a rock. She was in bad shape, but breathing. I rubbed her back until someone got here.” The westbound lanes of I-80 were expected to be closed for several hours Saturday. The cause of the incident was under investigation

Travel: Six ways to get to Lake Tahoe without a car

With traffic issues at the forefront of community discussions in Lake Tahoe, agencies like the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Tahoe Transportation District are working to find ways to get visitors (and locals) out of their cars and into public transit. Though unique travel solutions like park-and-ride lots outside of the basin and a commuter ferry will be instituted over the next decade, here are six ways that you can get to Lake Tahoe without a car right now. WHEELS UP TO RENO Ditch the car and fly to Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which has more than 120 daily nonstop flights. From there, you can hop on one of two buses — the South Tahoe Airporter or the North Lake Tahoe Express — depending on your destination. These services will drop you off directly at your hotel of choice. COAST INTO SACTOWN Fly into the Sacramento International Airport on one of its 145 nonstop flights and call an on-demand van service like SuperShuttle to take you the remaining two hours into Lake Tahoe. RIDE THE RAIL Hop on the California Zephyr train at the Emeryville Amtrak station (11 miles east of San Francisco) and sit back for a roughly five and a half hour scenic ride to Truckee. Added bonus: You can head on down to the dining car and order something delicious like a grilled black Angus steak, baked potato and a glass of merlot to enjoy on the ride. Once in Truckee, make your way around the basin by bus (check out http://www.nextbus.com) or Uber. PARTY ON WHEELS Head into the basin in style. Services like Reno Tahoe Limousine will take you from Reno to Lake Tahoe in a stretch limo, or for a larger group book a party bus from Sacramento through Empire Limousine. Three sizes of party buses can accommodate anywhere from 15 to 55 people and include satellite TV with LCD screens, laser lights, dance poles and wet bars. SKI BUS The Bay Area Ski Bus has been shuttling snow enthusiasts to and from Lake Tahoe for 19 years. Board the bus from one of 12 locations throughout the Bay Area between 4 and 5:30 a.m., sleep until 7:30 a.m., enjoy a provided continental breakfast and ski movie, ski from 9 – 4 p.m., have an après ski drink or two, then head back to the Bay at 4:30 p.m. Buses go to Kirkwood Mountain Resort, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Squaw Valley Ski Resort, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe, and Northstar California Resort. Greyhound, AMTRAK and Megabus also offer bus transit to Lake Tahoe from a number of cities. SWANKY AIRCRAFTS Surf Air is a membership-based airline that charges a monthly fee of $1,950 for unlimited flights to 12 California destination, including Truckee. Truckee-based Mountain Lion Aircraft also offers on-demand charter service. The Lake Tahoe Airport in South Lake Tahoe is not open to scheduled commercial flights, but can accommodate private aircrafts. Providers like Air Charter Service will arrange private flights to the South Shore.

Concern continues over basin transit issues

INCLINE VILLAGE — As the agency that funds bus service in Washoe County grapples with budget problems, possible Tahoe-area building permit cuts linked to bus service may become a factor in the search for solutions. In August, Regional Transportation Commission Executive Director Greg Krause warned that all bus lines and fares were on the table following a commission workshop in August. But the linkage between building permits and bus service was recently pointed out by John Bohn, executive director of the Incline Village Board of Realtors. He noted that proposed Tahoe Regional Planning Agency regulations tie the number of Tahoe Basin building permits to a county’s environmental improvements in several areas, including in public transit. Bohn made his comments last week at a luncheon attended by top TRPA leadership. Although Krause said bus service throughout Washoe County would be part of the solution, local concern has run high about Tahoe service because of comments made by commission member and Reno City Council member Dave Aiazzi at the August RTC workshop. In minutes from the workshop, Aiazzi is reported as saying that Tahoe ridership is even worse than in the rest of Washoe County, and suggested that it might make sense to cut the Tahoe service. The Tahoe service in Washoe County is provided by Tahoe Area Regional Transit under a contract with Placer County, Calif. But Krause responded that TART was provided as a reasonable service in terms of sales tax dollars collected from county residents at Lake Tahoe. In a letter to Krause dated soon after the workshop, Jordan Meisner, managing director of Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino, wrote that he was surprised by Aiazzi’s suggestion. He pointed out that a “significant number” of the 750 people employed by the Hyatt at its peak season use TART service to commute to work, and that elimination of “the only service currently available would be disastrous.” In later comments, Krause said substantial service changes were months away, and would follow several public hearings on the matter.