Tahoe Transportation District works through East Shore Shuttle hiccups
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The East Shore Trail Shuttle opened for operation this summer as a part of a long-standing effort to improve transportation and parking problems in the Tahoe Basin identified by locals and officials.
Washoe County and the Tahoe Transportation District have been working on solutions to satisfy all, including work on transportation hubs in central access points of the lake in order to reduce the amount of traffic that uses the main roads.
The East Shore Trail Shuttle is currently operating at the former elementary school parking area on Southwood Boulevard in Incline Village, which takes guests for free from the site to beach locations along Nevada State Route 28, most popularly to Sand Harbor. The lot provides access for parking while removing traffic from the highway.
Previously, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency special permit created for the site to be functional determined the gates for the shuttle would open at 10 a.m., meaning many people from out of the area that arrived early were parking their cars on Southwood Boulevard and in neighboring business parking lots.
“So that’s part of the issue here, which is we’re seeing people get on the surface streets,” said Tahoe Transportation Manager Carl Hasty.
Although there is overflow parking available at the new elementary school on Village Boulevard, Hasty was quick to look for solutions with the TRPA on how to avoid congested parking situations on residential streets.
“The answer is not to park on Southwood,” said Hasty. “Those are the types of things that we’re going to have to address and work harder on to get people informed that there is a safe place to go and we can pick you up there.”
After working with the TRPA, Hasty and staff were able to move the gate opening times to 7 a.m. and close at 6:30 p.m., allowing easier access to parking, while the first shuttle continues to run at 10 a.m. Additionally, parking attendants are on site during hours of operation to help answer questions and direct guests on where they are allowed to park, along with maintaining communication with TTD’s maintenance facility.
According to parking attendant Faithlyn Gee, those coming to use the shuttle are able to park on the opposite street but not on the same side as the lot, and can only give warnings to those using the lot before they call Washoe County Sheriff’s Office to administer possible citations. Hasty reported that since the lot hour change, he has not received any complaints from neighboring businesses about parking.
Local resident Jesus Carbajal has noticed that since the shuttle site has opened, there has been an increase of trash in the area where he has lived for 24 years.
“I like to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem,” said Carbajal. “I see a lot of people dump their cigarettes … Whenever I go from Point A to Point B, I spot places where there’s trash. Whenever I can, I’ll pick it up. We’re all from somewhere else, but you have to adapt, especially in this beautiful place.”
The trash on site of the shuttle lot fluctuates, but has seen various periods where trash is thrown around the parking spaces and the dumpster is left open throughout the day and after the lot has been closed.
Hasty said there are portable toilets on site along with trash facilities.
Carbajal is on Southwood frequently and has noticed that parking has become more difficult in the area not just for tourists, but for locals as well. With HOA restrictions on parking spots ramping up in Incline Village, locals now have less parking spaces in their own private lots, forcing them to park on the streets, according to Carbajal.
“This is not a district that has plenty of spaces for the cars on the roads,” said Carbajal. “People who live here with an extra car have nowhere to park [if their HOA only allows one spot per tenant]. So when it comes to the tourists coming and where they can park, it’s very limited space.”
Carbajal understands that the Lake Tahoe communities rely on a tourism economy and sees importance in creating a great experience for anyone who comes to visit. But his hope, along with many other locals, is that they are able to go about it in the correct way.
One obstacle Carbajal sees is lack of information posted regarding when the lot is full and where to find overflow parking, along with more adequate private parking signs from local residential areas.
“What we want for them is to have a good time, go to the beach, but do it properly to begin with,” said Carbajal. “It’s important to park in the right places, and when people get frustrated about having to walk from one place to another, they drop whatever is in their hands, and it comes full circle with dropping trash.”
Carbajal is not the only one looking for a more permanent solution to these problems.
Hasty, who has been working hard to improve the shuttle site and both local and tourists experiences, said that the site, which is owned by TTD, has the potential to become a mobility hub, meaning the current infrastructure would be torn down to create more adequate parking and a true mobility center.
“So if we stay in that location, that will be demolished,” said Hasty. “Then the whole process that we’re going to be going through here with the public will be about designing a concept.”
The space has received a variety of interest from other public agencies in the district, and TTD is prepared to consider all of the ideas for the location.
“We’ve gone through a request proposal to have a consulting firm come and work with staff and the committee and community to come up with several different concepts and then do a site assessment to see what other locations might be available. It helps define and articulate what the project will ultimately be.”
To learn more about the East Shore Trail Shuttle, visit tahoetransportation.org/routes/28.
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