Following a successful maiden voyage earlier this month, a Bay Area-to-Tahoe luxury transportation service is expanding its stops to include the entire North Shore. And the company hopes to expand to South Shore by June.
Tahoe Convoy officially hit the road on Feb. 2, as the Tribune previously reported. The luxury transportation system is the brainchild of Greg Riessen, a Bay Area native who came up with the idea for luxury carpool out of necessity after countless trips to Tahoe since his childhood.
"My whole life I've been driving to Tahoe for the weekend and frustrated with the lack of transit options. If you want to go Friday night after work there is no transit, if you want to ski Sunday and leave Sunday night to go home there's no option," he said.
On that first trip, which only stopped three Tahoe-area locations, Tahoe Convoy shuttled 20 passengers from the Bay Area.
"We're looking to do 25 on the next trip, I think that's pretty good for our first run," Riessen said ahead of the second run on President's Day weekend. "It's been a lackluster winter needless to say, so I think that's holding back ridership a little."
That first run was good enough for Tahoe Convoy to add a slew of stops across the North Shore, including: Soda Springs; Truckee Downtown; Alpine Meadows; Tahoe City Grove; Dollar Point; Carnelian Bay; Tahoe Vista; Kings Beach; Crystal Bay; Incline Village Central; and Incline Village Hyatt.
That opening run also was good enough to add a stop in Sacramento.
Tahoe Convoy is unique in that it leaves the Bay Area on Fridays and returns on Sunday, allowing weekend warriors visiting Tahoe to leave their cars at home.
Once passengers arrive in Tahoe they are encouraged to take advantage of area public transportation.
"(Tahoe Convoy) makes sense to us, we think it's a good idea and we're curious to see how the convoy is received by users," said Carl Hasty, district manager of the Tahoe Transportation District TTD).
Hasty said the district's plan is to increase the frequency of service for local public transportation and to develop a better internal system to the basin that can handle increased access from travelers.
"We are developing more connections for that purpose, so people can get around without their cars. They also, of course, have the ability to walk or use bike trails once they're here," Hasty said.
For the time being, the service is running on select weekends — the next departure date is March 2, according to Tahoe Convoy's website. The hope is to gradually expand that.
"The vision is to run every weekend all year," said Riessen.
The vision also includes expanding to South Shore, something Riessen says he hopes to make happen by June.
He said it's difficult to convince people who've always driven to Tahoe to leave their car and ride local transit but that the luxury transport system sees success when paired with local transportation options, such as those offered by TTD.
"The convoy is starting up with the North Shore, we look forward to success there and moving to the 50 corridor and South Shore," TTD's Hasty said of future convoy plans.
For those looking to book travel or suggest additional stop points, Riessen directs passengers to his website, http://www.tahoeconvoy.com.
"People can respond online with their requests for new shuttle locations, when they vote for a location they can put their email address to be updated on new routes, dates, and service information," he said.