Guest View: Bus system gears up for improvements
August 14, 2008
South Lake Tahoe is blessed with a good public transportation system. The people of BlueGO have worked hard to serve their unique client base of summer vacationers, winter resort visitors and casino patrons, transit-dependent locals, and workers commuting to their jobs. The public-private partnership that formed BlueGO and the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority to ensure the area had a coordinated and well-managed bus system has done a terrific job over the years of making sure the South Shore has service that is reliable, safe, clean and efficient.
That said, the time has come to take BlueGO to the next level – and try to make it the very best it can be. Over the past several months, I have spent a fair amount of time riding BlueGO services, talking to drivers and passengers, analyzing routes and schedules, and looking at ridership figures and operating costs.
The bottom line: BlueGO has a dedicated work force that serves its loyal riders well – but there are also gaps in coverage that we can fill just by eliminating duplication and improving efficiency.
Last month, I presented the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority Board of Directors with a series of proposed service improvements that, if implemented, would entail restructuring routes, extending service to areas of the South Shore that have no public transportation, and eliminating services where unnecessary duplication or inefficiency exists.
Highlights of the proposed service improvements and route changes include establishing bus service to Meyers and improved service to Lake Tahoe Community College, and eliminating BlueGO’s casino shuttle in favor of a more efficient and frequent service along the Highway 50 corridor serving transit centers, casinos and the Lake Tahoe Airport. Neighborhood flex routes would serve the Tahoe Keys, Bijou, Stateline, upper Kingsbury, Zephyr Cove, Round Hill and Sierra Tract areas.
More proposed service improvements would streamline BlueGO’s Nifty 50 Trolley service with new connections to Sugar Pine Point State Park to connect with TART for service into the North Shore and new service to Carson City. BlueGO’s curb-to-curb service, which would be renamed BlueGO OnCall, would operate 24 hours a day, and BlueGO Heavenly ski shuttle routes would be unaffected but promoted as a community circulator in the Stateline area for area residents and visitors in addition to skiers and snowboarders as additional transportation.
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This month, I also presented the board with a proposed adjusted fare schedule that would be the first for BlueGO since 2004.
These are exciting changes that would serve the transit-riding public in the South Shore area well. We are in the process of sharing details of these proposals with the riding public to make certain we have adequate public input before finalizing them and asking the board to consider them for adoption. If all goes according to schedule, the service improvements and fare adjustments could be adopted at a Sept. 5 public hearing and take effect in November.
A series of workshops and listening sessions has been scheduled this month to ensure adequate public input. The workshops end Aug. 22, and the last listening session is Sept. 2. You will find a schedule of these meetings and details of the proposals posted to the BlueGO Web site (www.bluego.org), at the El Dorado County Library, South Lake Tahoe City Hall, El Dorado Center, Stateline Transit Center, Kingsbury Transit Center or by calling me directly at (775) 589-5284 or e-mailing email@example.com.
Improving public transportation has long been a top priority in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Our long-term goal is to expand service and improve connections so that transit becomes a preferred mode of transportation around the lake. In the meantime, however, we can take a step toward that goal by making sure the services we have are the best they can be.
I look forward to discussing these proposals with BlueGO’s die-hard supporters and riders.
– John Andoh is the BlueGO transit administrator for the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority.
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