Getting from one end of town to the other on Fourth of July can seem a little like creeping along in a San Francisco rush hour. But now drivers have another option and it doesn’t cost a dime.
South Lake Tahoe’s public transit service, BlueGo, is offering free rides on select routes daily through July 7 and on weekends throughout the summer.
Tahoe Transportation District executive director Carl Hasty said he hopes the free lifts will help alleviate some of the traffic in town, give people an excuse to try BlueGo and have an impact on air quality in the basin.
“It’s an ideal time to do it,” Hasty said. “A lot of people respond. We see our ridership increase as much as 80 percent.”
BlueGo tried the free ride program around New Year’s Eve. Many people took advantage of the offering, Hasty said. Though the ridership increases during the program dates, it often returns to similar levels after the free rides are over, he added.
“I mean we have a pretty steady ridership, but when folks are aware of (the program), they take advantage of it,” he said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
The free rides are paid for through a $100,000 Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant that Tahoe Transportation District received.
The free ride program also gives BlueGo an opportunity to measure what ridership levels would be like if the service were completely free, as in some mountain towns, Hasty said.
“It gives us an idea what it would be like if we were able to afford free transit at the lake,” he said.
The Tahoe Transportation District also operates the North Lake Tahoe Water Shuttle, the Tahoe Area Regional Transit service, the Nifty Fifty trolley, and the shuttle between Incline Village and Sand Harbor.