Enhanced service may drive Truckee’s transit future

Margaret Moran
Truckee's non-winter fixed-route bus drives along Donner Pass Road Monday afternoon toward its sceduled stop in front of Wild Cherries.
Margaret Moran / | Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Providing a year-round, fixed-route service is among several ideas on the table to enhance Truckee’s public transit system.

“I think what we have is an exciting plan here,” said Gordon Shaw, principal of LSC Transportation Consultants, Inc. “I’ve been doing this now for 30 years, and this is one of the ones where at the end of it it’s like, ‘Yes, we’ve really got some steps to move forward.’”

LSC was commissioned to develop a five-year improvement guide for Truckee and eastern Nevada County as part of a transit development plan update required to qualify for state and federal transit funding. A $40,000 Federal Transit Administration grant covered LSC’s costs.

Currently, Truckee offers a Dial-A-Ride and fixed-route service, with one vehicle running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. between Henness Flat and Donner Lake during non-winter months, and two vehicles running six times a day between Henness Flat and Donner Summit during winter.

“… That shift every year means it’s really hard to commute on the transit service, get used to it and use it throughout the year when twice a year it (the fixed route) makes this big change,” Shaw said at the Aug. 27 Truckee Town Council meeting.

A year-round fixed-route service would operate hourly from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week in the winter and weekdays during non-winter months, Shaw said. Non-winter service on Saturday would run from and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with no Sunday service. Both seasonal routes would use one bus.

For Dial-A-Ride, which uses up to two vehicles, LSC recommends the second vehicle not be used for a 1.5-hour daily period, since it’s not needed based on ridership trends. Another recommendation is to schedule three service times — 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. — for the Truckee Donner Senior Apartments at 10040 Estates Drive.

“We will still serve you at other times if it really needs to work that way,” Shaw said. “But one of the things that we want … is to encourage people to be more efficient with the service rather than have it be kind of like a taxi-cab program that it has been in the past.”

Additional recommendations include implementing a dispatcher service and awarding the nonprofit Gold Country Telecare with a service contract for Dial-A-Ride and the fixed route, among others.

Moving forward on LSC’s recommendations depends on the ability to secure funding to ensure sustainability of Truckee’s transit program, said Kelly Beede, parking services manager.

In addition, any “significant modifications” will include public outreach and town council approval, she said.

In related news, council members on Aug. 27 unanimously approved Grass Valley-based Gold Country Telecare to provide transit service in Truckee, starting Jan. 1, 2014. The current provider is El Camino Charters, a for-profit company based in San Francisco.

Switching providers will save the town approximately $49,000 from transit’s annual operating budget of about $727,000, Shaw said.

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