ATM looks to beef up transportation service
n For more information about STAGE buses, call (530) 542-6077
Cost – $2 all day, or $1.25 one way, seniors $1 all day, children 8 and under ride free
A route – U.S. Highway 50, from Transit Center at “Y” and Highway 89 loop to Harveys Resort & Casino, 6 a.m. to midnight
B route – Bijou neighborhood, 6 a.m. to midnight
E route – U.S. Highway 50, loop through Ski Run Boulevard and Pioneer Trail, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
n For more information about Nifty Fifty Trolleys, call (530) 541-7548
Cost – $3 per ride, discount for children
A route – Camp Richardson to Stateline, hourly
B route – Heavenly Ski Resort to Zephyr Cove Resort, hourly
E route – Camp Richardson to Emerald Bay, hourly
n For more information about Bus Plus, call (530) 542-6077
Cost – $3 per person within city limits, $5 to or from county areas, specials needs program participants pay $1 per ride
Routes – On an on-call basis
Although the city of South Lake Tahoe, through grants and other funding sources, is beefing-up its transit system, assistant city manager Sue Schlerf said the existing bus routes are unlikely to change anytime soon.
“Just because there will be more buses does not necessarily mean there are more operating dollars available,” Schlerf said. “Unfortunately, we don’t get operating money along with new transit equipment.”
Area Transit Management, or ATM, operates STAGE buses, Bus Plus and Nifty Fifty Trolleys for the city, as well as the Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort shuttles. The private company, which has been in existence since 1985, also operates the Truckee Transit Center.
In the past year, four new buses were added to ATM’s city bus fleet, including one fueled with natural compressed gas. These were funded through a California Transportation Department discretionary grant, said Ken Daley, ATM’s general manager. Two new bus stations, funded through the Tahoe Transportation District, are currently being erected and a van for the disabled was purchased through a Section 16 grant.
“A lot of things are happening,” Daley said. “Some real enhancements to the system are coming through to make us more efficient and up-to-date.”
Although Schlerf said formerly declining operating costs are now slowly rising, expanding routes and service will remain restricted by budgetary constraints for the time being.
“For a few years, operating costs fell significantly, which in part precipitated the decrease in service hours and the subsequent paring-down of routes. However, that money has been coming back incrementally,” Schlerf said. “Per the city’s contract with ATM, the City Council determines where and how the money is spent – it’s up to them whether the city can afford to increase service hours.”
The city’s transportation system is mainly funded through state dollars – the Local Transportation Fund and State Transit Assistance – which the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency distributes to them annually. After removing city administrative costs, that money is made available to ATM to subsidize the cost of providing service to the city.
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