Transportation officials say Tahoe ferry service would reduce vehicle emissions
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The public comment period ends next week for a proposed ferry service that would connect north and south Lake Tahoe for residential commuters and tourists alike.
Carl Hasty is manager for the Tahoe Transportation District. He says his agency is proposing the service because Tahoe lacks a regional transit system:
"There is a bus system up in north shore; there's a bus system at south shore. But there's no public transit system that connects the entire lake region. What we're looking at the ferry becoming is equivalent to a more urbanized area's light rail system. This is going to be the fastest, most direct way to get from north shore to south shore."
Under the proposed plan, there would be two ferries offering year-round transportation across the lake, up to eight times per day in the summer. These would not be car ferries, but passengers would have the option to bring their bicycles and possibly their kayaks.
The district looked at other options on land, but Hasty says that a ferry system would reduce traffic congestion and car pollution.
"Unlike most communities around, we're not in the business at Lake Tahoe of expanding highways," Hasty explains. "And so, the rubber tire solution, or the bus solution, when you have a very busy day up here, you're only putting buses in that traffic because we're not adding a dedicated bus lane, for example, to a highway."
Project leaders are now drafting environmental impact statements for federal, state, and local regulators to analyze potential effects to air and water quality.
If approved, the project would cost roughly $33 million and could be underway by 2016.