Sacramentans say they’d take the bus |

Sacramentans say they’d take the bus

As many as 30 percent of Sacramento residents recently told telephone surveyors that they would “definitely” leave their cars behind and ride a luxury motor coach to South Shore. That’s despite 94 percent saying they now prefer traveling in private cars.

The results of the survey conducted by Godbe Research and Analysis were released Wednesday to the Tahoe-Douglas Visitors Authority Board of Directors.

The visitors authority in May authorized $30,000 for the survey to determine the viability of a bus service similar to the Tahoe Casino Express, which connects Stateline with the Reno/Tahoe International Airport in Reno.

Calls were randomly made to people in the Sacramento region and focused on those 21 years or older who visit Lake Tahoe or Reno.

Of the 850 people surveyed, 94 percent currently travel by cars, 8 percent by bus and 2 percent use other means. Seniors were more likely to travel by bus than younger adults.

After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of “luxury motor coach” service – in contrast to “bus” with its negative image – respondents were asked if they would choose that type of transportation. Thirty percent said definitely yes; 46 percent said probably yes; 12 percent said probably no; 13 percent said definitely no; and 2 percent were undecided.

The same question was asked before questions about the advantages and disadvantages of luxury motor coach. Then only 17 percent said they were definitely and 41 percent probably interested in the motor coach service.

Using the smaller number with a 3 percent potential error factor, Godbe noted that 14 percent represents 163,000 potential customers among the 1.15 million population of the area.

“That’s a substantial number of people,” Godbe told the TDVA board.

“I came into this with the hypothesis that these are Californians and they want to use their cars. This proved the hypothesis wrong.”

Whether a service would actually be viable without subsidy would depend on what it would cost to provide it vs. what could be charged, he said.

Board member Jim Rafferty, vice president of corporate marketing for Harveys Resort & Casino, was less impressed with data.

“It’s one thing to answer on the phone that you’ll go on a motor coach, but it’s another thing to get on it,” Rafferty said.

The TDVA is not, itself, considering operating a bus service. It commissioned the study for the benefits of the marketing research. Another group may want to start the bus service, possibly the Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance, which operates the Tahoe Casino Express to Reno.

In other survey results:

n Twenty-eight percent of the respondents cited traffic and delays as the chief drawback to trips to South Shore. The danger of the drive was cited by 12 percent of respondents; stress 10 percent and snow 7 percent.

n Broken into age categories, those who said they preferred traveling to South Shore in cars included 97 percent of those age 21 to 39; 95 percent of those 40 to 64; and 80 percent of those over 65 years. Those who preferred bus transportation were 4 percent from 21 to 29 years; 3 percent, 30 to 39 years; 5 percent, 40 to 49 years; 8 percent, 50 to 64; and 23 percent over 65.

n Positive reasons for traveling to Lake Tahoe included flexibility, 27 percent; convenience, 22 percent; like to drive, 9 percent; speed, 5 percent; price and affordability, 2 percent.

n Negative reasons for traveling to Lake Tahoe included traffic and delays, 26 percent; dangerous driving conditions, 12 percent; stress of driving, 10 percent; driving in snow conditions, 7 percent; price of gas 5 percent.

For the complete report, contact the TDVA office at (775) 586-0047.

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