‘Bright summer’: TART Connect, a free shuttle service, launches in North Tahoe after ‘dark days’ of pandemic
Amid the summer hustle along North Tahoe’s roads a van comes to a gentle halt as a member of a group of travelers lifts his eyes from a cell phone.
Dinner at a local restaurant is the group’s final stop at a day spent in Tahoe, and a new app from Placer County’s latest program offers a free ride to reach their dinner table.
Last month, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association held the ribbon cutting for TART Connect, a free shuttle service, which provides curb-to-curb service throughout North Tahoe.
“We know that it is vital that we reduce traffic impacts throughout the basin with innovative programs such as the one we are launching today,” said Placer County District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson during the program’s launch. “When I look at programs such as TART Connect, I see a new opportunity for our visitors and residents to take care of our region by choosing more sustainable and responsible transportation options.”
The new program will rely on eight small transit vans to provide curb-to-curb service throughout North Lake Tahoe. Wait times for rides, according to officials, will be as short as 15 minutes.
“Protecting Lake Tahoe takes many, many forms and all of us that are here are the stewards of this incredible body of water and this environment that is so important to visitors, to our residents, to our guests, to all of us,” added Gustafson, who was Tahoe City’s first TART Connect passenger. “Protecting that means reducing vehicle miles traveled, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing dependence on single automobiles, and getting rid of some the congestion that clogs our roads because of that.”
Passengers can request the service through a mobile application, similar to services such as Uber and Lyft. Passengers who don’t have the app can call 530-214-5811 to schedule a ride.
“By working together, we can build a vibrant visitor-based economy at North Lake Tahoe while mitigating the impact of visitors,” added Andy Chapman, president and CEO of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau. “This will be remembered for a long time as the bright summer following some dark days. We hope it also is remembered as the year we all learned to connect with TART Connect.”
The pilot service is contracted through Squaw Downtowner, LLC, and will provide vehicles, drivers and software to operate the service. Transient occupancy tax dollars will be used to fund the $506,000 pilot program under the recommendation of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
The program will run through the summer, and end in September.
The microtransit program is among other transient occupancy tax dollars being spent by Placer County to reduce traffic impacts in North Lake Tahoe.
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Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union
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