Placer County extends free public transportation services in North Lake Tahoe
Published Oct. 27, 2021
The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the extension of two free public transit programs provided by Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit, which services eastern Placer.
Following successful summer and fall pilot programs, the additional nearly $1.4 million will fund winter service of TART’s free on-demand microtransit service, TART Connect, allowing service to continue from Dec. 10 through April 10, 2022. TART’s public bus system will also remain free to ride for a second two-year period.
“Placer County is doing more than any other jurisdiction in the Tahoe Basin to address transportation needs,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “The continuation and expansion of free transportation services are key to helping meet our goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled in North Lake Tahoe.”
TART Connect transported nearly 50,000 riders from June 24 through Sept. 6, 2021, with 35% of those riders reporting they had never used a TART public transportation service before. Local workers lead TART Connect ridership totals. TART Connect serves all Placer communities along Lake Tahoe.
New to TART Connect’s winter pilot is an expansion of service zones to include resort areas located between Northstar and Kings Beach and from Olympic Valley to Tahoe City. The winter pilot also includes service continuation to Incline Village and Crystal Bay in partnership with Washoe County.
Placer implemented the free bus service in coordination with resort partners, Town of Truckee, Truckee Tahoe Airport District and Washoe County. Over the past two years, free-to-the-rider bus service has been extremely successful with a 20% ridership increase in January 2020 and a 48% increase in February 2020 compared to the prior year.
“We continue to evaluate the effectiveness of TART’s transportation services during peak seasons along with how our locals use and rely on our services,” said Placer County Transportation Manager Jaime Wright. “We will continue to modify our services to meet the growing needs of our region while maintaining our position as a community resource.”
Free transit provides local workers transportation to worksites and offers employers an alternative to providing employee fares or passes. The free programs also provide visitors reliable and convenient transportation options while supporting the reduction of parking and traffic impacts in North Lake Tahoe.
Along with funding partners, both programs are supported by transient occupancy tax funds and are part of a larger effort to improve sustainability and mobility efforts in eastern Placer.