Placer mountain resorts look to create on-demand transit system in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows

Published on July 11, 2018

A new system of public transit may be coming to Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows to serve visitors and residents alike, with the Placer County Board of Supervisors today providing preliminary approval for the effort.

The approval moves forward a petition from lodging operators and ski resorts to form a tourist-based improvement district in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows. If approved it would add a 1 percent assessment on gross lodging revenue within the new district and a 1 percent assessment on Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows single-day lift tickets to implement a micro mass transit system.

The system would be privately operated and offer an on-demand shuttle service within and between Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows, transporting riders to requested destinations not served by existing transit routes while offering connections to the regional TART transit system.

Two short-term pilot programs operated between the busy Christmas and New Year holiday and during the World Cup Ski Races that occurred in 2017 proved successful.

“Data shows that despite the county’s increased investment into the TART Systems Plan, the North Lake Tahoe region still lags mountain resort competitors in transit frequency, hours of operation and passengers served,” said Jennifer Merchant, Placer County’s deputy county executive officer for Lake Tahoe.

State law requires that prior to today’s board consideration of the resolution of intent to form the proposed district, petitions from properties representing more than 50 percent of the revenue to be collected by the proposed assessment be submitted to the county. Affirmative petitions in support of the micro mass transit system were submitted on behalf of Squaw Valley Lodge, Plumpjack Squaw Valley Inn, Red Wolf Lodge, Christy Inn Lodge, Village Inn Owners Association, Squaw Tahoe Resort, Squaw Valley Ski Holdings and others, totaling 62.5 percent of the total revenue expected to be collected. 

“A well-thought-out mass transit system can significantly reduce impacts to the environment and stress to highways and roads, and it can help improve our local economy,” said District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “There are many upsides for our residents, visitors, business owners and environment.” 

Merchant noted the total annual TBID proposed transit service budget is estimated at $715,000, which includes annual revenue generated by a proposed 1 percent assessment on overnight accommodation rental revenue for stays of less than 30 days from participating lodges in Olympic Valley and a contribution from Squaw Valley Ski Holdings.

Required next steps for approval include: notice of a public hearing set for July 11; a public meeting in North Lake Tahoe scheduled for July 24; a public hearing and adoption of a resolution of formation on Aug. 28. If approved, the district could begin assessment collections on Oct. 1.