BlueGo may reduce casino shuttle service |

BlueGo may reduce casino shuttle service

Susan Wood
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / BlueGo casino shuttle driver Cary Hair gets ready to leave Harveys Resort Casino for another run.

The BlueGo bus operation may reduce daytime hours of its casino shuttle service next month.

Stateline casino operators plan to meet this week to figure out ways to provide a subsidy for the on-demand shuttle service that accommodated 192,000 riders in 2004.

BlueGo, South Shore’s 2-year old coordinated transit system, is better known to South Shore residents for its fixed-route system and a call-in shuttle service in town. The fixed-route service runs a set schedule from the “Y” to Stateline, carrying more than 600,000 passengers annually. The call-in shuttle comes to the doors of an estimated 45,000 riders each year. Both will be unaffected by the changes.

Operating costs have apparently gone up, and at least three of the casinos are paying less, according to BlueGo Chairman and Lakeside chief Mike Bradford. The squeeze has prompted company operator Area Transit Management to evaluate reducing the daytime hours by Jan. 1 unless the casinos can come up with an undetermined increase. The casinos have jointly pledged to pay $400,000 for the service.

That may be difficult to do.

Bradford said Monday the casinos need to work out an equitable formula between Harrah’s, Harveys, Horizon, Caesars and Lakeside. They’re meeting as the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance Wednesday night.

John Packer, spokesman for Harrah’s and Harveys Lake Tahoe, said his casinos have maintained the same level of funding at more than half the subsidy.

“We may need to adjust the schedule based on how we feel it’s best utilized,” Packer said.

Bradford said Lakeside, Horizon and Caesars are paying less than they used to, but there’s a reason for that. Their market shares are less than Harrah’s and Harveys.

ATM President Ken Daley declined to disclose how much is needed, except to say the amount this year “is considerably more” than the $400,000 offered.

After the Gaming Alliance meets, the coordinated transit system will review the next plan of action on Thursday.

“We hope to resolve it this week,” Daley said.

Otherwise, the schedule may be cut by eight hours. The shuttle service now runs from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. on the weekends and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m on weekdays. If no additional funds are brought to the table, the service may start at 4 or 5 p.m.

Shuttle driver Cary Hair suggested the hotel properties chip in to the system, but Daley said they’ve been asked. The answer was no.

“I just picked up nine people from Tahoe Seasons with all their luggage. They’ll spend an ungodly amount of money while they’re here,” Hair said.

This isn’t the first time the $4 million BlueGo service has been forced to make reductions. Two years ago, some routes were canceled and others modified to cut increasing costs.

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