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Moving Forward

Expanding Public Transit in Truckee North Tahoe
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Jan Colyer loves taking the bus. 'I grew up in Great Falls, Montana, which is a small town,' she said. 'The bus driver knew me as the little girl who took the bus to visit her grandmother.' I wonder if the bus driver knows Colyer is now Tahoe-Truckee’s premier advocate for gettin' people on the bus.

A self-described 'transportation nerd,' Colyer came to the area in 1995 and immediately became involved with the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association (TMA). In May 2005, she came on board as the executive director and is rolling forward at a brisk pace. For example, this past summer TMA revived a shuttle between the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe, via Emerald Bay. The shuttle, which ran from June to September, is much needed and was a success. 'I want to do it again, but expand its run dates into October,' Colyer said.

Then, this winter, the TMA helped implement two more new transportation services – daily airport shuttles and free, regional evening shuttles.

'There was an incredible change in dynamics when we got the airport service,' said Steve Teshara, TMA board chairman. 'Before this, the focus of local transportation has always been on daytime. Now, there is attention paid to night transport as well, which will really make a difference in the viability of public transportation.'

The new North Lake Tahoe Express daily airport shuttle is the 'pride and joy' of the TMA and connects North Lake Tahoe-Truckee with the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. The Express began operations in November 2006 and had already logged almost 3,000 riders as of mid-January. 'The program is off to a great start! The drivers have been great and the [Reno] airport staff has been ‘slammed’ with lots of customers and a learning curve for a new system,' according to a Jan. 15 update from Colyer, 'Good changes are being made with the reservations system as we learn and grow the business.'

Not doing as well as hoped, the free nighttime shuttles serving Lake Tahoe (running from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) and the Town of Truckee (running from 6 p.m. to midnight) are scheduled to run through April 8. For the first month of service the total ridership of all routes was 4,453 (excluding the last week for Truckee that has not yet been reported).

'We are continuing with our public outreach to get more night time riders so we can justify continuing this service in the future,' Colyer wrote in the Jan. 15 update. She remains optimistic. 'New services often take a while to get rolling.'

Following the regional terrain, there are ups and downs in the TMA world. Even without much snow and as many 'night riders' as is wanted, things are picking up overall. TART (Tahoe Area Regional Transit) has increased its service hours into both the morning and night. TART is a service provided by Placer County, but the TMA works cooperatively with the county to market its services. TART Winter Service was up 9 percent for December 2006 in comparison to the previous year, Colyer said. Moreover, the Town of Truckee's Transit Service, operated by Aztec Transportation, was up 17 percent and the Truckee-Dial-A-Ride is up 20 percent for the December 2005 to 2006 comparison.

Looking to the future, Colyer envisions water taxis, a completely connected bus system from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe, upgraded fuels for the transit fleet, and a centralized North Lake Tahoe transit center. Ambitious goals, yes, but Colyer sees them as possible, especially if the public gets involved. 'People can make a difference. This is a small town,' she said. 'I really believe in the grassroots formula. It’s all about public service and public awareness.'

For information on The Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association, visit LakeTahoeTransit.com or call 530-581-3922.

 
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November 8, 2018