Lake Tahoe water shuttle to make waves
Nevada Appeal News Service
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – Despite a rough current of economic lows and bureaucratic red tape, a water shuttle that launches next week will provide residents a different mode of transportation to Lake Tahoe’s north, south, east and west shores.
Whether or not it stays afloat could be quite the gamble.
The water shuttle – which begins operations Tuesday, June 1 – is a 36-foot, 20-passenger boat called the M/V Blue Warrior, owned and operated by Tahoe Diver’s Conservancy, an area nonprofit organization working toward sustainable environments, in partnership with the Alpen Group.
Mechele Duhamel, spokeswoman for the conservancy, said the organization was able to break through more than a year of funding problems by becoming a non-government based entity and taking out a $20,000 loan from a private investor out of San Jose, Calif.
She said the money will be used for maintenance and insurance costs; all boat operators will be volunteers. As loan payments come due, Duhamel said she and the conservancy are hoping the venture will pay off.
“There is no contingency plan, and I don’t have a plan ‘B,'” she said.
Duhamel said prices for the M/V Blue Warrior could range between $25 and $50, depending on destination.
She said the conservancy will pick up some passengers by using a dinghy on some shores with limited boat access, due to certain docking restrictions and buoy placement. This means small children and passengers with limited mobility will not be able to use the service from certain locations.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has worked with the conservancy since last year on the project.
“Our position is that we need to make available more alternatives to getting around for people in the Tahoe Basin, and in particular, for the visitors,” said TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver. “Anything innovative like this that gets people out of their cars and onto the lake I think is fantastic.”
Oliver said there are about 50,000 year-round residents living in Lake Tahoe, and about 3 million who come during the summer.
Looking at the concept of water transport, Oliver said it could even be done on a larger scale.