Water taxi could arrive on the north shore this summer | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Water taxi could arrive on the north shore this summer

TAHOE CITY – Officials at Thursday’s North Tahoe Transportation Management Association meeting unveiled a pilot program for Lake Tahoe’s first public water taxi that would escort commuters between June 12 and Oct. 10 of this year.

Kings Beach resident John Shuff, who presented the “North Tahoe Waterbug” idea, said the project will be funded and managed by the Tahoe Transportation District and have nine-passenger diesel boats doing 24 daily runs from Kings Beach, Tahoe City to the West Shore. Shuff also said four daily runs would go from Tahoe City to South Shore and back.

Shuttle operation times, he estimated, would last a little more than 12 hours from 6:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.

“Hopefully, in my lifetime we’ll have little boats riding all around the lake and a big boat or two running across the lake,” said Shuff who sees the pilot program as a precursor to the future where each lakeside town will have their own shuttle programs and operators.

Targeting some of the hurdles along the road Shuff talked about issues such as parking and funding, issues that left previous water shuttle proposals marooned indefinitely.

“Parking needs have been an issue of concern regarding previous proposals for larger ferry services,” Wrote Shuff in his proposal. “However, the relatively limited passenger capacity of this service will tend to actually reduce parking needs.”

He said estimated peak parking increases at any one shuttle location would not exceed five or six vehicles. Yet, Shuff added, should the pilot program expand parking data from this first season could be used to develop a larger proposal.

“The idea here is we start small and go big,” Shuff said.

By doing this, he said the new program would not require subsidies and be totally self-sufficient. Shuff estimated fares costs from the water taxi will range from $7.50 per North Shore stop to $22.50 for a one way ride to the South Shore.

Looking at potential sites to ferry passengers, Shuff said the pier in Kings Beach owned by the California State Parks would be the most likely location for Kings Beach passengers. While in Tahoe City two locations, the Tahoe City Marina and the public dock at the end of Groove Street would be potential sites.

On the West Shore, Shuff said there would have to be a public-private partnership with one of the TTD and a dock owner in Tahoma or Homewood; Shuff said talks are underway to develop an agreement and they are still investigating sites on the South Shore.

In the proposal, MJM Yachts, an American boat company out of Boston, is being considered to provide the 29-foot custom diesel boats for the shuttle service. Shuff said these boats will not only move passenger around the lake faster than cars during congestion periods, but they will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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