BlueGO schedule changes today
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – After a year of turmoil, the South Shore’s BlueGO bus service will see further changes beginning today.
The South Lake Tahoe City Council approved a cost containment plan for the bus service during its regular meeting Tuesday.
The plan takes effect today and includes numerous modifications to route schedules, including truncated times for Route 50, which runs the length of Highway 50 between the South Y Transit Station and the Kingsbury Transit Center. For a chart of all the changes go to: http://www.tahoedailytribune.com/BlueGOchanges.
The South Tahoe Area Transit Authority, the body that oversees the bus service, adopted the plan on Friday to help close a $211,000 budget gap predicted by the end of the fiscal year in June.
California state funding for BlueGO dropped from $1.4 million to $677,000 this year and route changes were one of two ways the transit authority could close the anticipated budget gap, said Assistant City Manager Rick Angelocci on Tuesday.
“We did not choose to move forward with any fare increase to BlueGO riders,” Angelocci said.
Depending on the availability of funding, the schedules that existed before Wednesday are expected to be restored by July 1, Angelocci said in a report to City Manager David Jinkens last month.
“Once funding is restored by the State of California and all of the grants have been reimbursed to STATA by its grantors by fiscal year 2010-2011, STATA intends to restore the schedules suspended from the cost containment plan back to each of the routes affected,” Angelocci said.
Reduced funding from California forced some change in service because fare box revenues “don’t even come close” to meeting the operating costs of a bus service, said Councilman Hal Cole.
The City Council was obligated to approve the cost containment plan to keep the bus service available, Cole said.
“This is something we have to do and I hope the public understands that,” Cole said.
Councilman Bill Crawford was the only councilmember to vote “no” on the cost containment plan. Crawford said he voted against the plan because he could not support the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority.
“My opinion is STATA must die,” Crawford said. “It has not worked for this town. Slowly but surely we are killing public transportation in South Lake Tahoe.”
A change in operators and funding cutbacks by California during the past two years have created a “confluence” of problems for BlueGO, said BlueGO spokesman Dennis Oliver.
The unpredictability of when the bus service will receive payments from the numerous local, state and federal agencies that pay for BlueGO creates cash flow problems, Oliver said.
Securing more consistent funding for BlueGO is important to keeping the service operating in the future, Oliver said.
Room taxes or parking fees are ideas that have been bought up, but those funding sources would require a “big discussion” before they could see implementation, Oliver said.
“We don’t know of any large funding sources that are likely to come around this year,” Oliver said. “We’re just hoping that we can build back from here – that it won’t get any worse.”