Transit system discussed
Representatives of South Shore Area Transit Management met with Douglas County Commissioners Thursday to provide updates on the Coordinated Transit System, a project slated to link all existing transit on the South Shore.
Dick Powers, executive director of SSTMA told commissioners that the organization is negotiating with Orbital-TMS, a Maryland based company, to complete the project. Powers conceded a price gap in available funds and what Orbital is asking, but said negotiations are continuing. He said he anticipates a gap as high as $400,000. A meeting will be held tomorrow to discuss additional funding sources. Powers said federal grants could be a possibility to make up the difference.
Commissioner Don Miner asked if Douglas County could terminate its agreement with SSTMA. Richard Wiggins Chief of Transportation for the TRPA said he suspected Douglas County could retract its commitment, but he wasn’t positive. At this time, however, Douglas County is still committed to the project, said County Manager Dan Holler.
Powers said he is confident in Orbital and its ability to complete a professional project in a timely manner and said the project could be fully operational a year after the contract is signed. An agreement is anticipated at the beginning of September.
“They consider this to be a showcase project, and they are very interested,” Powers said.
The project will include a tracking system that would merge existing transportation systems on the South Shore. But the project, which has been in the works for six years was put on hold when the SSTMA severed relations with the software developer contracted to do the project. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which contracted with SSTMA to carry out the project, fired the Trapeze Software Group last May after it completed the blueprints for the project.
SSTMA’s plan is to finalize a contract with Orbital-TMS, which was the second choice in the original bid process. It also plans on turning over the System Requirements Document, produced by Trapeze for Orbital-TMS to carry out.
This prompted Miner to ask if there was any proprietary information in the document, which Trapeze would not agree to letting Orbital use. Powers said the TRPA owns the document and has jurisdiction over its use.
Miner said he was skeptical about that possibility.
Commissioner Steve Weissinger asked of any other software vendors why Orbital is the only software developer SSTMA is negotiating with. Powers said he has been in contact with Orbital for quite some time and has confidence in its ability to do the project. He also said it accelerates the project by deleting a second bid process.
The TRPA has collected $1.4 million in traffic mitigation fees for various projects throughout the basin, including several redevelopment projects. SSTMA also 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 on-line.
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 all existing transit such as the bus system, bus plus, the casino shuttles and the Nifty-Fifty Trolley and would track the exact location of each vehicle.
Stakeholders in the project include the city of South Lake Tahoe, Area Transit Management, Heavenly Ski Resort, El Dorado County, Douglas County, and all the South Shore Casinos except for Bill’s Casino, which does not have shuttle service.
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