Software could be coming for hi-tech transit system |

Software could be coming for hi-tech transit system

Proponents of the Coordinated Transit System met with a potential software developer last week in an effort to get the project back on track.

Dick Powers, executive director of South Shore Transportation Management Association, and others met with Orbital-TMS, a Maryland-based company, to discuss plans to take over where the former software vendor left off.

Powers said he was optimistic about the meeting and hopes to have the entire project online within a year of signing a contract. The deal could be concluded within the next month, he said.

“(Orbital-TMS) did a very comprehensive demonstration of the software and their capabilities,” Powers said.

Steve Teshara, SSTMA chairman, said details are being worked out with Orbital, which was the second choice when the project was initially awarded to Trapeze Software Group.

“Orbital has done many similar projects around the country with similar applications of technology,” Teshara said. “The products that Orbital has are tried and true. “

The project, which has been in the works for six years, is slated to include a high-tech transportation system that would merge existing transportation systems on the South Shore.

But the project was put on hold when the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which contracted with SSTMA to carry out the project, terminated its relationship with Trapeze after the software developer completed its blueprints for the project.

“We did everything we could to move this project forward, but we couldn’t, so we decided to make a change,” Powers said.

So far, the TRPA has collected $1.4 million in traffic mitigation fees from projects throughout the basin, including several redevelopment projects. SSTMA has an additional $2.5 million in grants from both the Federal Transit Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But none of the plans have come online.

“It’s been a lot of time and lot of energy, and it seems like it has all gone down the drain at this point,” said Douglas County Commissioner Steve Weissinger. Commissioners will meet with TRPA representatives to discuss CTS at their Aug. 16 meeting.

Weissinger said the project has created a credibility issue because Douglas County has advertised the completion of CTS on television.

The delay in the project, which was initially slated to be running by 1996 or ’97, has raised a few eyebrows among stakeholders. The TRPA is likely to fail its threshold requirements for traffic mitigation this year, in part because CTS is not online, said Douglas County Commissioner Don Miner, who also sits on the TRPA Governing Board.

“Somebody has to take it on the chin and when I talked to Trapeze they didn’t feel like they got the community support,” Miner said.

TRPA spokeswoman Pam Drum said the project remains a high priority.

“It is critically important, and we are going to see it through with new focus and new energy,” she said.

Rochelle Nason, executive director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, a nonprofit environmental group, said it will keep an eye on the progress of CTS.

“We are monitoring the situation to see that progress is made,” Nason said. “We think that TRPA is making a good effort to get CTS online, and we want to support that. If momentum is lost, we will need to revisit that issue.”

CTS, using kiosk and telephone communication along with individual PIN numbers, would be able to tell visitors the best mode of public transportation to get from one point to another anywhere in the South Shore. The system would merge track the exact locations of South Tahoe Area Ground Express buses and vans, casino shuttles and the Nifty 50 Trolley.

Stakeholders in the project include the City of South Lake Tahoe, Area Transit Management, Heavenly Ski Resort, El Dorado County, Douglas County and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

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