Tahoe’s Uber-like ride-share snow shuttle a go

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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On-demand shuttle-bus service at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadow ski resorts in Placer County will be only a few smartphone clicks away starting in December.

The final hurdle for the new free service was cleared Tuesday after business owners representing 62.5 percent of the assessed value of properties in what will be known as the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows Micro Mass Transit District petitioned in favor of the plan to the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors subsequently voted to approve formation of the district — with a a 1 percent fee on lodging and day-use ski-lift tickets expected to generate $715,000 a year to cover costs.

The intention is to cut down on traffic congestion in and out of resorts and free up more parking spaces, resort owners and the county are hoping.

The new transit service will start in December and fees will start to be collected in October, Deputy CEO Jennifer Merchant reported to the board.

Like other ride-sharing services, customers will be able to use a smartphone app to reserve a seat. Shuttles, which can travel into neighborhoods as well as around resorts, will pick up and drop off visitors at their preferred locations as long as they are near the main shuttle routes that feed both resorts.

The board decision did not come before questioning by Supervisor Kirk Uhler on how the program’s success or failure could be defined. The program is slated to last for five years and be up for renewal for another 10.

Of particular concern was the possibility of the ride-sharing program using targets of other more traditional transit systems of three riders an hour.

Merchant said that there would be “peaks and valleys” for the new system and that Placer County would have a seat on the board of the new district to help measure progress along the way.