Tahoe Tests Traffic-Busting Ideas
Placer County Pilots New Transportation Options in Tahoe
September 30, 2019: Lake Tahoe’s beauty is also its curse. The year-round playground draws millions of visitors who make 25 million vehicle trips within the Tahoe Basin a year, generating significant congestion for both visitors and the 50,000 permanent residents.
To help people get to where they want to go quicker, Placer County is trialing more transportation options to give people the chance to get out of their cars. In the last year, Placer County launched a park-and-ride program, an on-demand micro-transit service, and a crossing guard program. Building on the lessons learned from those pilots they are continuing to pilot more mobility options with two additional pilots: a bike-share pilot and a bus-on-shoulder pilot.
The bike-share pilot is slated to launch in 2020, with 15 bikes at five stations – three in Tahoe City and two in Kings Beach – when the weather is nice for bicycling. While this is a small number of bikes, Placer County staff view this as an opportunity to test the viability of bike share in the area and say the program could be expanded if ridership demand is there.
The bus-on-shoulder pilot is scheduled to launch this winter and will convert road shoulders on State Route 89 into a third lane accessible only by public transit vehicles. This bus lane would be a 2-mile stretch around the Squaw Valley area that sees the most traffic. Placer County staff have said that if the pilot is successful, it could be expanded to the full section of Highway 89 between Olympic Valley and Truckee, and possibly to State Route 267 between Northstar and Truckee.
The bus-on-shoulder pilot will complement Mountaineer, the on-demand micro-transit service that launched last winter and will be expanded this year. The micro-transit service in Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadow resort areas “had over 80,000 passengers which nearly doubled our expectations by some experts for ridership,” said Drew Conly, Director of Resort Operations at Resort at Squaw Creek. The service is estimated to have eliminated at least 20,000 car trips.
The park-and-ride lot pilot also saw some success with more than 2,500 people using shuttle services last winter to get from park-and-ride lots to their resort destinations. In July, the shuttles carried over 1,700 people to fireworks displays in Kings Beach and Tahoe City. The next phase of this service will focus on adding shuttles to meet the high demand during special events like the Fourth of July displays.
So, if you are heading to the Tahoe area be sure to check out these transportation options – they may save you some time and will certainly save you the hassle of driving in heavy traffic.