New research addresses Tahoe transportation concerns
In a given summer month, somewhere between 10.8 and 11.8 million visitor trips are made from one point to another within the Tahoe Basin, according to new data recently released by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Transportation District. And another 4.4 million trips are made by residents and commuters.
To say there is a need to address area transportation issues moving forward might be an understatement.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” TRPA principal transportation planner Karen Fink said. “But there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
As part of an ongoing effort to address future transportation needs, the TTD and TRPA hosted a joint public comment session Tuesday, May 24, releasing information on their most recent traffic study as well as proposed future plans for the basin.
The traffic information released was compiled by the research firm AirSage, and was based on tracking anonymous cellphone pings over the course of a few months.
“The data has given us a view of how Tahoe is used in ways that maybe we didn’t fully see before,” TTD director Carl Hasty said. “It’s interesting. It’s new. We’re still exploring how to use this information.”
“It’s really highlighting for us that there are a lot of trips out there that we haven’t captured for public transit,” Fink added.
The research is expected to be released online in the coming weeks along with other aspects of TRPA and TTD’s long-term goals on their joint website http://www.linkingtahoe.com.
“This is the early stages of input for the regional plan,” Fink said.
The groups expect to hold additional public forums later this year and will also collect comments online.
Among early comments received, Fink said people suggested more bike capacity on buses, increased public transit options and more suitable parking for backcountry access points.
“I would say there are still a lot of hurdles, but there is definitely momentum now,” Fink said of future considerations. “We’ve started to see new projects all around the lake that make our communities more bikeable and walkable.”
Officials from both organizations said changes in federal policy that now allow for new funding sources should be beneficial to making future projects a reality.
In addition to travel data, the groups presented a host of proposed future projects, including expanded regional and local transit options.
Among the more intriguing ideas was the proposal for an integrated cross-lake ferry and water taxi system.
“To have a cross-lake piece would really be a keystone,” Hasty said. “It’s instrumental to having interregional transportation.”
Under the proposal currently up for environmental review, the ferry would connect the South Shore to Tahoe City and be integrated into public transit along each shore. The plan could also include a water taxi network with stops along the South Shore.
“It’s as realistic as any project,” Hasty said. “It would provide a unique aspect for a lot visitors and commuters.”
Hasty suggested that the plan could potentially become a reality in the next five to eight years.
More information on future plans are available and will continue to be updated at http://www.linkingtahoe.com.