Big changes planned for BlueGO | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Big changes planned for BlueGO

Sara Thompson

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Route changes and expanded service are in the works for BlueGO.

The BlueGO bus system could see some sweeping changes in coming months, including the expansion of fixed-route service into areas such as Sierra Tract, Pioneer Trail, Meyers and even Christmas Valley.

Fare increases are being eyed, too, and the system could alter its policies on transfers and day passes.

John Andoh, BlueGO transit administrator, said the modifications would provide a cohesive transit service for the South Shore and attract new riders.

Andoh was hired in February. In just six months of work, he has written a new proposed route system and fare structure that now are ready for public comment.

A series of public workshops on the changes will be held this month.

“Our goal is to attract the rider who isn’t riding the system, while making the system better for the existing rider,” Andoh said.

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Ruth Paine, who has been riding BlueGO for four years, went to the first workshop Aug. 6 to find out about the changes.

Paine had a few questions for Andoh, such as whether the bus would stop at the bus shelter by Tahoe Senior Plaza instead of across the street.

“Sometimes it’s hard for me to stand and wait for the bus,” she said.

Andoh said the new route will stop at the shelter, which delighted Paine. “A lot of my friends will be happy to hear that,” she said.

Andoh said all 18 routes currently served by BlueGO are under review. Some routes have three options, which are labeled A, B and C. Andoh said A is the recommended route change, B is a hybrid version of A and the old route, and C is the current route.

The idea is to eliminate duplication of routes so that the system is more efficient.

Some of the new areas that would be served by route changes include Bijou, Sierra Tract, Meyers, Christmas Valley and Pioneer Trail.

One route excited Louis Pepi, 14, who has been riding the bus the past couple of years: the express route to Carson City, which is a new route.

“That’s a bus I’ve been waiting for my entire life,” Pepi said.

Another new area served would be South Tahoe High School, which Andoh said could attract younger riders. “If you groom them to use the bus early on, they’ll keep using it,” he said.

Existing riders are excited about the new routes – but not enthusiastic about potential fare increases.

Pepi said he thought the day-pass price, which would go up from $3 to $6, was a little high.

Andoh said prices are increasing because of the cost of fuel and maintenance, not because of the route changes. The one-way fare would go from $1.75 to $2, so the day pass would equal three trips. If a rider is taking fewer than three trips, it wouldn’t be worth it to purchase a day pass.

There are two options for fare modifications: Eliminate bus transfers and use day-use passes, or eliminate day passes and retain transfers. Transfers would be free, and be valid for 30 minutes on a different route.

Andoh said other resort communities, such as Vail and Aspen in Colorado as well as Tahoe City, have eliminated transfers and retained day passes.

After looking over the proposed route changes and fare increases, Paine grabbed an extra copy to bring back to the senior plaza so others could see it. “I’m going to study this and go to another meeting,” she said. “I can’t absorb this here.”

When the public workshops and listening sessions are done, the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority Board of Directors, which oversees BlueGO, will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes Sept. 5. If adopted, the changes would take place Nov. 23.

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center. Served by bus routes A, B, C, E and H.

10 a.m. to noon Monday at Kingsbury Transit Center/Douglas County Government Center. Served by Nevada Flex and the Kingsbury Express.

9:30 a.m. to noon Aug. 19 at Lake Tahoe Community College, Room A106. Served by bus route H.

4 to 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at Lira’s Supermarket in Meyers. Served by BlueGO OnCall.

5 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at Harveys Casino Resort Bus Center. Served by Club, Diamond, Kingsbury Timeshare, Kingsbury Express and Nevada Flex Routes.

7 to 9 a.m. Wednesday

3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 18

2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21

10 a.m. to noon Sept. 2

Noon to 2 p.m. Thursday

3 to 5 p.m. Aug. 21

2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 1

For more information, check out bluego.org.