Douglas may ax trolley funding |

Douglas may ax trolley funding

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file photo / Douglas County commissioners could decide today whether to scrap funding for the Nifty 50 trolley.

Douglas County leaders could decide today whether to scrap the county’s share of funding for the Nifty “50” trolley that runs through the South Shore.

The county instead wants to streamline its BlueGO subsidy to run Bus Plus demand respond service throughout the Stateline, Kingsbury and Zephyr Cove areas. The move would improve efficiency and ridership, allowing the BlueGO bus to pick up and deliver more people to more places, Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said.

“What we’re having is trolley ridership dropping each year and BlueGO ridership drop during the months the trolley was operating,” Holler said. “With public transit, the issues with riders are consistency, reliability, availability and whether it is inexpensive.”

Douglas County stands to save nearly $170,000 if commissioners decide not to sign this year’s contract with the nonprofit South Shore Transportation Management Association, which operates at least two Nifty “50” trolleys.

As both a public and privately funded transportation system, BlueGO was established last year to streamline busing throughout the South Shore.

A phone call to the association was unreturned Thursday. However, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency transportation planner Alfred Knotts, who works with both BlueGO and the transportation association, said the plan doesn’t necessarily spell bad news for the trolley system.

“This will bring identity more into one exclusive type of service,” Knotts said. “The trolley system is aimed at tourists but it has been unpredictable for tourists.”

Nifty “50”, which is also subsidized with public and private money, would continue service on the California side, with daily stops throughout South Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson and Emerald Bay, Knotts said.

Nifty “50” has been operating in Tahoe – from Emerald Bay to Zephyr Cover during the summer for about 10 years. In 1996 it saw the most passengers, around 80,000. Ridership has dropped considerably since then, Holler and Knotts said.

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