Partnership with Placer County makes funds available for transportation, trash, and other challenges
Tahoe City, Calif.- Over the summer, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association in partnership with Placer County made significant progress in the effort to address the long-time impacts of visitation to the popular resort destination.
As a result of the formation of the North Lake Tahoe Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), the NLTRA was able to advocate the allocation of TOT funds for implementation of new projects and programs designed to improve transportation, support a thriving local economy, and educate visitors about sustainable recreation and responsible travel. The passage of the TBID was also recently recognized by the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association (TNT/TMA) as an innovative funding mechanism that is helping to advance transportation initiatives in the region.
From new micro transit services to enhanced trash clean up, pedestrian crossing guard programs to new and expanded visitor education programs, TOT funds made available due to the formation of the TBID made it possible to try a variety of programs and evaluate their impact. Designed to work together to enhance destination stewardship and sustainability, most of the programs were not only well received by residents, businesses and visitors, but proved they can be replicated and amplified to ensure continued success.
$2.1 million in funds utilized
“In all, $2.1 million in TOT funds made available as a result of the TBID were used to support programs vetted by the NLTRA in partnership with Placer County to encourage sustainable travel, reduce trash impacts and improve regional transportation by giving people convenient, reliable options to get around without their car,” said Bonnie Bavetta, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association interim CEO. “These programs, paired with expanded visitor education-both in advance and when people were here-made a positive impact in our local community over the summer and are things we will continue and expand upon this winter and beyond.”
Results of Summer 2021 TOT-TBID Dollars at Work Programs
Highlights of some of the key programs implemented in collaboration with Placer County and other regional agencies include:
The summer TART Connect Pilot Program, recommended by the NLTRA, offered micro transit service in the Tahoe Basin between June 24 and September 6 and gave residents and visitors an easy way to get out of their personal vehicles. Joint marketing efforts provided by the TMA, Placer County, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitor Bureau and the NLTRA and supported by TOT dollars facilitated key outcomes of the program demonstrating heavy local use of the service:
- 49,490 total passengers used TART Connect, with the average trip distance totaling 2.2 miles and the average wait time for pick-up just 8:46 minutes
- 29% of riders used the service to go to work (the most common “trip purpose”)
- 56% of riders were full-time Tahoe-Truckee residents
- 35% of riders had never taken TART before
The TART Connect service is operating with additional zones this winter:
Zone 1: Tahoe City/West Shore: 8am-12am daily
Zone 2: Carnelian Bay/Cedar Flat/Tahoe Vista/Kings Beach/Brockway: 8am-12am daily
Zone 3: Incline Village/Crystal Bay: 8am-12am daily
Zone 4: Olympic Valley/Tahoe City: 5:30-10:30pm Fridays and Saturdays
Zone 5: Northstar/Kings Beach: 5:30-10:30pm Fridays and Saturdays
The Clean Tahoe pilot program was established to enhance trash cleanup over the summer. The project will continue through July 2022, and to date, the efforts have been impactful. Focused primarily on Kings Beach and Tahoe City but able to respond to the entire resort triangle, the program was designed to ensure public trash cans are emptied during high impact times and responds to private trash violations. In July, August and September, nearly 320 hours of time was spent on the effort in North Lake Tahoe communities within Placer County. (Lake Tahoe – State of the Lake Report)
Pedestrian Crossing Guards
The crossing guard (pedestrian flagger program) began last year and was continued in 2021 due to its success. Offered from late June to mid-September in Kings Beach and Tahoe City on peak weekend days, the goal of the program is to increase pedestrian safety while providing more consistent traffic flow. The program was well received by the public and is effective, with its encouraging results prompting Placer County staff to find ways to continue the program while evaluating long-term solutions.
Temporary Signal at Grove Street and SR 28
A temporary pedestrian signal at a high traffic intersection in Tahoe City was installed before the July 4 holiday and studied through mid-September to analyze its effectiveness regarding traffic flow and pedestrian safety. A detailed report containing data collected during the test period and public survey feedback is being compiled by Placer County Public Works and a traffic consultant and will be shared in the future.
Responsible Traveler Education
In support of new transportation enhancing programs and overall efforts aimed at destination management, the NLTRA focused on educating visitors about responsible travel and how to serve as stewards of the environment when visiting North Lake Tahoe. All proactive marketing both in and out of market focused on supporting the local business community through use of sustainable travel initiatives and participation in some of the new programs now being offered because of TOT-TBID dollars at work.
Although education efforts are ongoing, a baseline has been established to measure their reach:
- Over 150 North Lake Tahoe visitors took the Traveler Responsibility Pledge, which was promoted in collaboration with Visit Truckee-Tahoe and Tahoe South (NLTRA continues to promote the pledge at events and through its marketing efforts)
- Know Before You Go online resources were viewed 21,674 times
- North Lake Tahoe’s Wildfire Resources page was viewed 12,284 times
- Two newsletters were shared with North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s curated email lists with dedicated information related to the Caldor Fire; both had strong open rates at 27.3% and 24.5% respectively (industry average is 16%)
- Sustainable travel pages were viewed 17,970 times
- 7,437 TART Connect app users
- North Lake Tahoe’s TART Connect page was viewed 4,238 times
“The success of programs and projects implemented over the summer demonstrates that there are effective solutions to some of the challenges our community faces,” said Stephanie Holloway, Placer County Executive Office Tahoe operations manager. “We look forward to the continuation of these and other projects, and to working with our partners on the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association staff and Board of Directors to identify and fund efforts that can further enhance the experience for North Lake Tahoe residents and visitors.”
Winter 2021-22 TOT-TBID Projects
Heading into the winter season, new and continuing programs and projects that TOT funds made available due to the formation of the TBID have been allocated to include:
• Winter TART Connect Service providing access to five zones including expanded service to and from Olympic Valley and Northstar on weekend evenings
• Access to Free Park and Ride lots to use in conjunction with TART and TART Connect transportation services
• Continued Free to the Rider Bus Service on TART
About the Placer County TOT
Placer County Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is collected through overnight lodging from visitors to the area. In eastern Placer County, an additional 2% is charged which helps fund important programs and services in the North Lake Tahoe area. Since the addition of the 2%, more than $45 million has funded local infrastructure projects, transportation services, and others for the benefit of the North Lake Tahoe community and its visitors.