‘Microtransit’ ride service Chariot coming to South Lake Tahoe
In an effort to reduce traffic on the South Shore and provide alternative transportation options, Chariot Transit will introduce two passenger vans to Tahoe in the next month.
Marissa Fox, the legal and policy director at the League to Save Lake Tahoe, announced Chariot’s arrival this past week. The League spearheads a sub-committee to develop public-private partnerships, which is part of a bi-state committee that has existed since last September.
Chariot is a private transit business that mimics public transportation on a smaller scale, but provides some of the flexibility of ride services like Uber. Its vehicles can hold up to 14 people and riders can reserve their seat and make payments through the Chariot app.
Chariot shuttles will be operational between Lake Shore Commons and Stateline, with some service to Round Hill Pines, according to Fox’s statement. The details of routes and how much it will cost are to be determined in the next few weeks, the League’s Chief Strategy Officer Jesse Patterson told the Tribune.
“We want really high ridership in the next few months,” Patterson said. “It’s really important that people ride it when it’s here so we know if it’s worked.”
The League also helped bring Lime bikes to Tahoe last summer, the success of which encouraged the committee to look at alternative ways of transportation. Patterson said being able to collect rider data was beneficial in measuring the success of the project, and they hope to achieve the same with Chariot.
“(Chariot) will offer visitors and residents a new, convenient way to get around Tahoe without a car, and will complement the area’s existing public transit and bike share systems,” Chariot communications representative Erin Simpson wrote in an email.
“Microtransit” is the term now used for companies like Chariot, Lyft Shuttle and Via, which are private operations providing shuttle services. Similar operations have been successful in several U.S. cities, because they act as supplements to public transportation and are a cheaper alternative to private rides.
Patterson said these success stories along with the positive recognition of Chariot are why the company was chosen, the ultimate goal of the project being to reduce the number of cars on the road.
Once the details are sorted between the sub-committee and Chariot, the shuttles will launch as soon as possible, likely in early July. The committee hopes Chariot will serve tourists and daily commuters alike, Patterson said.
Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows added Chariot in 2016. The service is free and operates only within Squaw Valley, but has proved to be popular with skiers and snowboarders heading to the mountain.
The cost of Chariot varies by region, but generally riders purchase a minimum number of credits to use at their leisure. In the Bay Area, for example, rides are between $3.80 and $5 depending on the time of day.
Monthly passes with unlimited rides are an alternative for regular rides, and group reservations can be made for private events.
For now, there will be two Chariot shuttles, but more could be added depending on demands.
“We want these pilot projects to turn into sustainable ways to get around,” Patterson said. “We’re really optimistic in working with our partners to serve the most people.”