The bus route from Lake Tahoe’s South Shore to Carson City may be canceled unless funding comes through from the Nevada Department of Transportation, according to Tahoe Transportation District.
The Valley and Lake Express route “21x” is at risk of being eliminated due to a beneficial funding change with unintended consequences, said TTD district manager Carl Hasty.
“The whole issue here has to do with the way transportation funding is structured,” explained Hasty. “That’s through law, both the federal level and the state level.”
In December, TTD changed its federal designation from rural to urban, which opened up a five-year funding opportunity, versus year-to-year discretionary funding.
“That’s not something that Tahoe has had before. So that was a good thing,” said Hasty.
“That would have been OK for us if one other little event hadn’t happened in getting this language changed,” explained Hasty.
“There’s two factors important in the transit funding formula: population and density. So the population was there, but the density component was not included as we were going through the conference committee and putting all this together. And that affects how much you get in your formula. So now we are pursing that fix, but in the meantime there’s a consequence here.”
As a result, funding is not available for the route to and from Carson City unless NDOT provides funding at the state level. TTD is still waiting on an answer from NDOT.
“This is an important route. This is one of what we call our triangle routes. We have three routes — this one goes to Carson City, we have one that goes to Minden-Gardnerville, and we have one from Minden-Gardnerville that connects to Carson City as well, creating that kind of triangle. So it’s our South Shore connection to the Nevada side of the valley over there,” said Hasty.
“We have people who ride that who live off the hill and are working up here. We have people who live up here who are going down there for medical services, school and shopping. So it’s not something we want to see go away. It’s important to the economy here, and our aim is to connect our communities, so we’re going to do everything we can do to keep that.”
If funding does not come through from NDOT, the elimination of route 21x would go into effect on Oct. 1.
Hasty said if they are forced to eliminate the direct route to Carson City, TTD will work to streamline the route from South Shore to Minden-Gardnerville and on to Carson City.
According to Hasty, this funding issue points to the vulnerability of transit on the South Shore.
“We do not have any local funding sources. In North Shore, for example, part of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is dedicated to transit as well as transportation projects. We don’t do that in South Shore.”
Route 21x runs approximately 25,000 passenger trips a year.