Bids out for transportation project |

Bids out for transportation project

Greg Risling

Lottery fever swept across California this week but there is a special prize in South Lake Tahoe awaiting one lucky company.

The bid to assemble the Coordinated Transit System, a high-tech transportation project, is up for grabs. Fourteen of the nation’s top software and system integrators visited Tahoe Wednesday to learn more about the area’s next transit project.

Dick Powers, director of the South Shore Transit Management Association, fielded questions from prospective clients during a two-hour session at the City Council chambers. Powers informed them that the proposal deadline is June 8 with the contractor being selected the following month. The committee is comprised of CTS stakeholders like Heavenly Ski Resort, the city of South Lake Tahoe and the casinos.

The eventual system provider will have a daunting challenge ahead. Since CTS will be one of the first of its kind in the transit field, a complete package will be needed as part of the specifications.

Powers said the committee is looking for a firm that has years of experience with complex software.

“It’s important that the software strength is there,” he said. “It’s a key element in our evaluation. Without it, the rest goes up in smoke.”

CTS will go one step further into the future by equipping buses with a transponder that will beam a signal to satellites. More than 45 buses and shuttles will run fixed and demand-response routes on the South Shore. Passengers will have the luxury of having a bus pick them up via phone or strategically placed kiosks. The signal will be re-transmitted to a dispatch center and an operator will select the nearest bus headed in the requested direction.

Five service zones on the South Shore have been created. All of the vehicles will operate year-round but only Zones 1 and 2 – city limits to Stateline – will run 24 hours a day.

The project will cost roughly $3.6 million, a majority of which came from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Transit Administration. Locally, more than $1.1 million was contributed by private and public agencies.

The local partnership is relying upon the contractor to present the components to make the system run. Some of the freedom to select product vendors, however, may complicate matters.

“I like the idea of giving the flexibility in the specs,” said Ashok Mukhopadhyay of AKM Associates. “You’ve given people a basket of fruit to select from but how can you decide if a pineapple is better than a banana?”

Powers concluded that he was previously optimistic the system could be available to the public early next year. The start-up date may be pushed back several months, making August 1999 the earliest possible date for CTS.

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