Splitting the TRPA: BlueGo would change hands again if bill passes
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – If the bill that would withdraw Nevada from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is adopted, the bistate agency that manages the main public transportation system throughout Tahoe’s South Shore would be eliminated as an unintended consequence.
Tahoe Transportation District was created in 1980 as an amendment to the 1969 compact between California and Nevada that established TRPA. The agency – which operates BlueGo – is responsible for carrying out multi-modal transportation projects and programs throughout the region.
However, if the Nevada Legislature approves Senate Bill 271, the district would fold, officials said this week, meaning control over BlueGo would be thrown to the 11 agencies throughout the basin to begin afresh.
“What the Tahoe Transportation District … allows us is a way to deal with all those partners,” said TTD manager Carl Hasty.
If the compact between Nevada and California is terminated, Hasty said millions of dollars in funding for TTD – channeled from the Federal Highways Administration, through the Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is also tied to the compact – would not be available.
Without funding, the agency’s projects, including the U.S. Highway 50 Stateline Community Revitalization project and a new bikeway on the Nevada side of the lake, would be halted, and the operation of BlueGo would have to be transferred.
“The BlueGo transit service will need to be taken over by a local government, the city of South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County, or Carson City with a willingness and capability to cross state lines if that service is to be maintained,” Hasty told the Nevada Senate Government Affairs Committee during an April 1 hearing on SB 271. “And the concept of a regional transit system as envisioned in the compact for the entire basin will have no champion or entity to make it so.”
To transition BlueGo with its current bistate service to another management organization that doesn’t have the relationships, staff and knowledge TTD has could take two years, Hasty said.
“I think South Lake Tahoe will have to stand up and take over the system,” said South Lake Tahoe city councilman Bruce Grego, who has encouraged the Nevada legislature to withdraw funding from the TRPA.
If BlueGo is transferred to the city, Grego doesn’t expect a lapse in service, he said, pointing to the recent BlueGo management transfer from South Tahoe Area Transit Authority to Tahoe Transportation District, which has nearly the exact same board of directors.
However, specifics haven’t been considered because the bill is still in the early stages, he added.
“The bill is not far enough along where we can begin to prepare for that,” Grego said.
SB-271 recently passed out of the Government Affairs Committee. In order for it to be adopted, it would need to be voted through by the full Senate, reviewed by assembly committees, voted through by the assembly and then signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval before becoming law. The deadline for passage through the Assembly is May 27.