- Associated Press - Sunday, November 22, 2015

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) - An integrated transit system around the Lake Tahoe Basin won’t be realized without asking locals to chip in, area transit and resort representatives said.

A panel of local experts met earlier this month to discuss the future of transit in the Lake Tahoe Basin and agreed there is no funding for some of the proposed initiatives. But a majority want Lake Tahoe’s North and South Shore to be on par with other resort destinations such as Park City, Utah and Vail, Colorado.

Sandy Evans-Hall, a spokeswoman for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, said Park City supplements its free transit with various taxes and fees. Placer County is considering putting a sales- or bed-tax increase on the ballot next year.

“As a resort community, you have to start thinking of transportation as an amenity,” Evans-Hall said. “A fare system can be a barrier to transit use, especially for visitors.”

North Tahoe agencies have been working on a proposal to eliminate fees, increase service frequency to 30-minute rides and have evening service between Truckee, the North Shore and West Shore. The Resort Triangle Transit Vision, however, would cost an estimated $7.2 million a year, the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1STjIHl). The North Shore transit service only has a $4.5 million operating budget.

Evans-Hall, however, believes the program would pay for itself within the first year.

George Fink, of the Tahoe Transportation District, says a recent rise in tourism indicates a need for a basin-wide transit service without creating a massive transit entity. While the federal government is likely to approve a six-year transportation bill in the near future, it won’t by any means provide all the funding for future transit goals.

“We have to realize that funding for the goals we want to do won’t come from the federal government, but from locals,” Fink said.

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Information from: Tahoe Daily Tribune, https://www.tahoedailytribune.com/

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