Feeling ‘blue’: More cuts en route to South Lake Tahoe’s bus service | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Feeling ‘blue’: More cuts en route to South Lake Tahoe’s bus service

Adam Jensen
Tribune File PhotoThe South Tahoe Area Transit Authority Board, which oversees BlueGO, approved additional route reductions for the bus system at its Friday meeting.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – With its future in doubt, the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority has approved additional cuts to BlueGO’s service plan.

The changes, known as STATA’s “sustainable service plan,” include the elimination of Routes 52, 54 and 55, as well as stopping on-call service on weekdays from 12:45 a.m. to 5:45 a.m.

The plan also calls for additional service on Highway 50 during winter months and New Year’s Eve. The changes are scheduled to take effect Oct. 3.

Routes 52, 54 and 55 take different paths between Stateline and the “Y” and most of the riders on these routes will continue to be served via enhanced Route 50 and 53 service, according to a Friday presentation to the STATA Board of Directors by Gordon Shaw, the transportation consultant who designed the plan.

The changes equate to a 9 percent reduction in BlueGO service.

Shaw said the plan is designed to provide the highest level of service given the transit authority’s current budget issues. More neighborhood service would be provided if more money was available, Shaw said.

“This is essentially what I think we can afford to do,” Shaw said.

Further costs savings would have required decreases in the frequency of service along Highway 50 or cutting off service at 9:30 p.m., Shaw said.

The plan will allow STATA to achieve a $159,893 surplus at the end of its 2010-11 fiscal year if all the agency’s expected funding comes through, according to Shaw’s presentation.

Carl Hasty, acting administrator for BlueGO and STATA, said some of the financial commitments included in the 2010-11 fiscal year budget have not been solidified, but the agency is moving forward with the reasonable expectation it will receive the anticipated $4,544,992 in funding from various private, local, state and federal partners.

The route changes approved Friday add to changes made July 12 and are the latest in a series of alterations made to South Shore bus service during the past two years.

An audit of STATA’s 2008-09 financial statements that was scheduled for acceptance by the transit authority’s board on Friday will instead be approved by Board Member Dan Garrison on behalf of the board because the continuance of the item last month and the board’s August decision to pursue a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing made the audit incomplete, Hasty said.

The move toward the bankruptcy filing was part of an effort to keep the transit authority afloat, but a “growing concern” about the viability of the agency remains, Hasty said.

The transit authority’s 2008-2009 financial statements report a net loss of $1,458,089, due primarily to costs associated with a December 2008 change in operators and the reduction of funding received from California, according to a STATA staff report. The transit authority’s preliminary income reports for 2009-10 show a $334,531 net gain, according to the report.

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