Transit[ioning] Away From A Fossil-Fueled Winter Outdoor Experience

An SBC Weekend Warrior takes on Public Transit

Katey Ford

Katey Ford

Climate Planning Technician

If you’re a weekend warrior like myself, then the thought of heading to the ski resort for a day on the mountain isn’t as relaxing as it might suggest. Over the years I have ridden at the resort less and less, for one main reason — traffic congestion.

Frustrated by road congestion and high gas prices, even carpooling seemed like a lost cause. I had regularly taken the Tahoe Area Regional Transit (TART) back in 2019 when I was working at Palisades Tahoe. At the time I wasn’t earning an hourly wage where I could afford filling up my 20-gallon gas tank as frequently as daily trips to the mountain would require. I had become friends with a few international workers here on the J1 visa who reassured me that the TART was a great option to commute, if you were able to be somewhat flexible with timing. Voila! I was sold.

Fast forward to 2022: my situation looks a tad different, but the solution has stayed the same. The TART portfolio is still the best fuel, time, and frustration-saving option we’ve got in the Truckee-Tahoe area; and it’s a FREE and pleasant experience!

I am a bit ashamed to say that it had been years since I had taken the TART because “I didn’t need to anymore”; my environmental values weren’t as strong as I had thought. As an SBC employee on the Climate & Energy team, and a self-professed environmentalist, I knew I had to stop making excuses, and frankly, stop being lazy about this area of my life. Once I created the habit and took the TART a few times, this process became second nature and streamlined.

This past month I took the TART Connect a few times to Palisades Tahoe from the Truckee SaveMart parking lot, where I got dropped off at the resort entrance. When winding down for the day, I consulted the Connect App to plan what time I needed to be back at the bus stop. Each experience was easy, cost-saving, relaxing, and emissions-saving. 

TART services:

  • TART Park + Ride: Scheduled shuttle operates on the weekends with various parking lots conveniently located in Tahoe City and Truckee. It provides rides to Palisades Olympic Valley,  Alpine Meadows, and Northstar. 
  • TART Connect: On-demand shuttle operates daily 8am- 12am (midnight) within Olympic Valley/Tahoe City, and Northstar/King’s Beach zones. You can use the TART Connect App to receive curb-to-curb services, or connections to the TART bus lines.
  • TART Dial-a-Ride: Offers fare rides year round to the general public with priority service for seniors and persons with disabilities. Dial-A-Ride is available for trips within the Town of Truckee limits, Monday-Friday 8:00amto 5:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance of your trip on the weekdays and by 5pm on Friday for weekend trips. Call: (530) 550-7451 to make your trip.
Cal topo map of North Lake Tahoe Truckee Bus routes

One detail of note: if traveling from Truckee to Palisades Alpine Meadows, the TART will travel into Olympic Valley first. And vice versa, if traveling from the North Lake Tahoe area, the TART will make a stop into Alpine Meadows first.

The Tahoe region also offers traffic solutions for backcountry skiers as well! The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance has announced the return of the TBA Backcountry Shuttle. Refer to the link for shuttle details, and the areas served map for reference.

I realize that this is not a convenient option for most, though I’d challenge you to ride the TART on a lazy Sunday or book the TBA Backcountry Shuttle for your next outing; the benefits certainly outweigh the cons! If we are going to be sitting in traffic from the ski resorts, might as well be a passenger on a spacious, emissions-saving, no-cost vehicle!

*As of March 1, 2022, face coverings are still required while onboard TART vehicles.

Katey Ford skiing in the Sierra Nevada
Author Katey Ford making turns after using public transit to reach her ski destination.

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