Luxury shuttle service from Bay Area to Lake Tahoe to make maiden voyage | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Luxury shuttle service from Bay Area to Lake Tahoe to make maiden voyage

Bay Area residents traveling up the mountain for a weekend at Lake Tahoe now have a new option for getting there.

Tahoe Convoy will make its maiden voyage to the North Shore today, Feb. 2, as part of a soft launch that, if successful, could develop into a stable service making weekly runs from the Bay Area to both shores of Tahoe year-round.

"I'm really just trying to give people an option that will not only make their trip to Tahoe better but will really benefit the lake," said Greg Riessen, a Bay Area native and founder of Tahoe Convoy.

Riessen, a frequent visitor to Lake Tahoe and transportation consultant who has done work for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said it was his disgust with the traffic on busy travel days that led him to conceive the idea.

"I knew a transit option would be popular," he said.

Reducing the number of cars on Tahoe's roads has long been a goal of area organizations and nonprofits.

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"We need to find people better ways to get to and around Lake Tahoe without them having to be stuck in their cars," Jesse Patterson, deputy director for the League, said in a statement. "We think a service like Tahoe Convoy can be part of the solution, so we encourage visitors to give it a try and tell us about their experience."

Riessen launched a fundraising campaign on indiegogo.com and successfully raised $10,000 — enough money to guarantee three runs, which will occur every other week starting with tomorrow's run. During that time, the bus will hit six stops — San Francisco, El Cerrito, Fairfield, Truckee, Squaw Valley and Tahoe City.

The vision, Riessen said, is to add a second line that will run to the South Shore. If there is the market, the buses could run off the hill, with the North Shore route running to Reno and the South Shore route running to Carson City.

Each ticket is for one way and cost $49, meaning someone in Tahoe looking to spend a week in the Bay Area could depart from Tahoe on Sunday and return on Friday.

The shuttle boasts reclining seats, WiFi, power outlets, restrooms and plenty of space to allow travelers to bring their skis or snowboard.

"It's been received extremely well," Riessen said on Wednesday, two days before the first trip. At that time the shuttle was half full, which would be enough to break even and sustain the service at the initial level.

For several reasons, there are some in Tahoe hoping the service succeeds.

Anything that can help reduce the number of cars on the road while still allowing visitors to come to Tahoe from regional hubs like the Bay Area is a good thing, said Morgan Beryl, senior transportation planner with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA).

TRPA looks to free transit, shared-use pathways for traffic solutions in Lake Tahoe

Beryl prepared TRPA's regional transportation plan that was released in April 2017. While that plan largely focuses on transportation within the Tahoe Basin — which will be important for Tahoe Convoy passengers who arrive in Tahoe without a vehicle — there are discussions with regional partners about how to improve inter-regional transportation. And at the end of the day those improvements will almost assuredly involve private partners, Beryl said.