East Shore Shuttle may return
A transit pilot project that sparked controversy last year may be revived come this summer.
The East Shore Shuttle may be back on the road in June, according to Tahoe Transportation District Director Richard Hill. The major roadblock, as with almost any transit program in the Tahoe Basin, is funding. Washoe County gave the transit agency $25,000 from its air quality mitigation funds to operate the borrowed buses. Nearly $15,000 was gobbled up and the remainder has yet to be returned to Washoe County.
Hill said he plans to hear by the next TTD meeting whether Washoe will contribute to another round of funding.
Kay Bennett, a Carson City supervisor and TTD board member, said she will ask her fellow supervisors to support the operation. She hopes the other two jurisdictions that fall on the basin’s east side- Douglas and Washoe counties- are willing to equally bear the costs.
“It would be great if each county could chip in $5,000,” she said. “We have more time this year to find funding. We also are working with a broader base of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.”
Douglas County commissioners didn’t allocate money for the shuttle last year and Hill will have to ask them again in the upcoming weeks.
The shuttle was conceived to get beach-goers out of their cars, unclutter the scenic State Route 28 and remedy the area’s erosion control problems. In conjunction with the Nevada Department of Transportation’s elimination of shoulder parking, the shuttle picked up passengers at Spooner Summit and Incline Village on the weekends and took them to the hidden beaches along the shoreline. Some of the shuttle’s outspoken critics said the tactics used to boost ridership figures – eliminating miles of shoulder parking – hurt the shuttle’s credibility.
North Swanson, spokesperson for Tahoe Area Naturists, said the group doesn’t oppose the shuttle but would rather see a comprehensive transit system in the basin.
“It would be better than a piecemeal weekend service,” said Swanson, who attempted to take the shuttle twice last summer but found parking nearby. “Some people drove to the parking lots first before they went to the shuttle’s pick-up spots.”
Passengers’ comments were compiled in a user survey that gauged sentiments and their reasoning. Of some 50 people who provided responses, 29 said they used the buses because there wasn’t any parking or they had no other choice. A few stated that the shuttle was part of a political agenda but most said they understood that the project was a way to combat visitors from trampling vegetation and causing erosion problems.
The shuttle will probably be at the center of three meetings in February and March regarding parking on SR 28. Planners want the public’s response to a study that identified several locations for parking lots.
Hill said future parking lots and the shuttle can work in conjunction with one another.
“We want to maintain access along the corridor and I think the way to do it is a combination of parking and transit,” he said. “Parking would be complimentary to the shuttle because it would allow us to operate in those periods where the lots would be beyond capacity.”
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