Transportation improvements coming |

Transportation improvements coming

Think of it as a lube job on a massive vehicle for South Shore.

The lube, in this case $3.6 million worth of computer software, will link all buses, vans and trolleys to one dispatch center, making the one system more efficient than the patchwork of systems that exists today.

Delivery of the software is on track, with communication equipment to be installed at the dispatch center on Shop Street this month. Passengers should notice changes by December, said Nick Haven, a transportation expert at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

By the time all of the installation work is done, roughly expected to be complete by July, 60 phones and 30 kiosks, or interactive computers, will be posted throughout South Shore.

At these transit hubs, one of the largest located between the Marriott’s Timber Lodge and the base of the Heavenly Gondola, passengers will be able to find out where a vehicle is and how long it will be until it arrives.

Passengers will also be able to let the drivers know they are in need of a ride. Planners hope the improvement, which at this point is not expected to increase fares, will attract more riders.

The transit system provides service to 1.2 million people each year. Once the system — called TCAT for Tahoe Coordinated Area Transit– is in place, the TRPA is predicting the ridership will be in the hundreds of thousands every year.

Less people driving cars would reduce air pollution, which may be entering Lake Tahoe and causing it to lose its clarity, according to water quality experts.

The effort to coordinate city, county, casino, and resort transit systems began in 1995. The federal government offered a large chunk of money to help link the systems, which are owned by private and public groups.

The system, known back then as CTS, was expected to be operational by 1997 or 1998. There has been nothing but frustration for interested parties ever since.

In 2001, a contract agreement that had been years in the making was aborted because the software firm had become unresponsive, according to Haven. In June of this year, a new contract was signed with Orbital, a firm with a solid record of installing similar systems.

“I’m very much encouraged,” said South Lake Tahoe Mayor Brooke Laine, who has been critical of the slow-moving process. “We’re finally beginning to see all the hard work hit the road.”

Brad Vidro, public works director and engineer at South Lake Tahoe, said he also sees things moving in the right direction.

“After a lot of years of it being stalled, they’re moving forward, equipment is being purchased and put to use.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at

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