Squaw Alpine Transit Company announces return of free shuttle service | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw Alpine Transit Company announces return of free shuttle service

Mountaineer in valley transportation
Photo by Ben Arnst | www.squawalpine.com

Squaw Alpine Transit Company, the nonprofit formed as a collaborative effort by Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows’ homeowner associations, lodging properties, and the ski resort, announced the return of its complimentary Mountaineer on-demand shuttle service provided within the two valleys during the 2020-21 winter season.

In its first two seasons, the Mountaineer app-based shuttle service transported more than 150,000 passengers despite a COVID-19, 30-day shortened second season. Through its early closure date in mid-March, Mountaineer’s 2019-20 winter season was tracking against its inaugural season at a 20% increase in passengers at nearly 70,000, and a 14% increase in rides at over 34,000 with an average wait time of six minutes, which was a 36% decrease from the previous season.

It is estimated for winter 2019-20 that the Mountaineer service took nearly 12,000 vehicles off the road, avoiding roughly 19,000 vehicle miles on Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts’ access roads.

The transit company is conservatively approaching the upcoming winter season due to COVID-19 tourism impacts resulting in decreased assessments and based on uncertain skier visits to the resort community. A Mountaineer vehicle fleet of six is scheduled to offer service starting Dec. 17, through April 11, in Squaw Valley Thursday through Monday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., and in Alpine Meadows on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Squaw Alpine Transit Company is prepared to be as responsive as possible to shifts in demand throughout the season amid the pandemic and its dynamic effects on visitors to the resort community.

During the 2020-21 winter season, Mountaineer passengers and drivers will be required to wear face coverings at all times within the shuttles, and vehicle occupancy will be reduced to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Mountaineer will follow strict health and safety protocols that adhere to federal, state and local guidelines including vehicle cleaning and disinfecting at the beginning of every shift and high touch points such as seatbelts, door handles, and arm rests will be disinfected throughout each operating day. Health and safety protocols are stated on http://www.SquawAlpineTransit.org.

Despite a reduced vehicle fleet, and with the understanding that average wait times may increase from last year’s remarkable numbers, Squaw Alpine Transit Company is still confident that Mountaineer will continue providing passengers with a high level of service.

“We experienced strong ridership during Mountaineer’s first two seasons and are looking forward to continuing to exceed rider expectations this winter,” said Keith Fountain, Squaw Alpine Transit Company board chair. “We are encouraged by the 37% increase in average daily passengers tracked last year over the inaugural year. We are pleased to keep the service running and will be responsive to shifts in demand amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic.”

Five dog-friendly, 10-person four-wheel drive Sprinter-type vans equipped with ski and snowboard racks, and one ADA vehicle are used to offer free transportation within each of the two valleys.

The free Mountaineer app will always have the current days and hours of operation throughout the season. Inter-valley transportation services will continue to be offered between the two resorts via the Squaw Alpine Shuttle operated by Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort.

Mountaineer is funded through the combination of a 1% assessment on daily lift tickets sold by Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, and a 1% assessment on transient lodging and vacation rentals within Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has agreed to continue its volunteer contribution of an additional 1% assessment on its bundled products to assist in funding Mountaineer services.

“We are pleased to continue our financial and operational support for Mountaineer. The service adds tremendous value to Squaw Alpine’s guest experience and is a win-win for our community and the environment,” said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.

Learn more about Squaw Alpine Transit Company and Mountaineer online at http://www.SquawAlpineTransit.org.

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