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Douglas County transportation up, expansion possible

Greg Risling

Douglas County commissioners will decide whether to scrap or possibly expand its transit system on Thursday.

The five-member board will get an update from the contractor, Area Transit Management, about fixed-route operations over the last three months. According to ATM Director Ken Daley, ridership figures have risen approximately 65 percent compared to last year’s monthly totals.

“We’ve made some adjustments to the schedule and made it compatible with our South Lake Tahoe route,” he said. “We’ve been out there in the community on a regular basis informing them of the service.”

Formerly known as the Douglas Area Rapid Transit, the system is now compatible with ATM’s South Tahoe Area Ground Express. The transportation agency was awarded the contract in October after Sunshine Enterprises failed to meet its obligations. Douglas County officials say Sunshine had its insurance policy canceled and the company used some of its taxis to pick up riders.

Under Sunshine’s direction, DART had 1,671 passengers last January. Recently released figures from January reveal that ATM’s marketing strategy paid off. The system attracted 1,000 riders more than the previous year. The three-month ridership average with ATM is 2,123.

Those numbers bode well for Douglas County residents who rely on mass transit from such points as Round Hill Square, lower Kingsbury and Stateline. The ultimate decision, however, will be left to county commissioners who previously discussed eliminating the bus system until a coordinated transit effort, slated for next year, on the South Shore began. Some transit officials believe it would be difficult to re-gain ridership by disrupting service in Douglas County during a 10-month time frame.

County commissioners could also decide if on-demand service is a worthwhile investment. Sunshine provided the convenient option but ATM must modify its current contract with Douglas County if the agency wants to do the same. ATM has also proposed the county provide demand-response service this summer in conjunction with the trolley system.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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