Watch a show but leave your car at home (Opinion)

Pro wrestling, Pitbull or Paw Patrol. Choose. Stateline’s exciting, newly opened Tahoe Blue Event Center, named after its sponsor Tahoe Blue Vodka, offers a plethora of shows and concerts. If these headliners aren’t to your taste, there’s still something for everyone: better transport options for the south coast.

As CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, my team and I worked with the event center for many months to make sure it was doing its part to keep Tahoe Blue. This means managing local transport impacts to zero.

Through our negotiations, the event center secures significant funding for Lake Link — South Shore’s free on-demand transportation microtransit service — and other traffic-calming elements, such as managed parking at the casinos and strict limits on how many tickets can be sold during the busy summer season (less than half the venue’s capacity ). We also ensured that accountability measures were built in.

This is part of our role as Tahoe’s environmental stewards: to ensure that any development not only offsets its own impact, but actually improves the situation, especially as it relates to transportation. If traffic monitoring data shows that the current event center program is not doing the job, we can push for more improvements to be implemented.

Why is Tahoe’s oldest environmental nonprofit so focused on transportation? Because the way you and I navigate is key to protecting our lake’s water quality and clarity. This is how.

– Our cars and trucks are chewing up Tahoe’s roads and highways, leaving masses of loose debris to wash into creeks and streams that flow into the Big Blue. These small specks of soil and dust are the main threat to Tahoe’s water clarity.

– On top of that, the synthetic rubber in your tires is likely a major source of microplastics – those tiny threads and bits of petroleum-based junk in our lake.

– Cars pump tailpipe emissions into the atmosphere. In addition to fueling climate change, some of these pollution particles, such as nitrogen, fall directly onto the lake’s surface, providing food for the algae that can turn Tahoe’s blue water green.

So what is the transportation solution to Keep Tahoe Blue? Driving our cars less and using bikes, buses, free micro-transit buses and our feet more. Just like that.

Lake Link is a microtransit shuttle service that offers free on-demand shared rides to many of the South Shore’s most popular destinations. It launched more than a year before the event center opened, thanks in part to support from the League and more than a dozen local businesses and organizations, including day-to-day management from South Shore

Transportation Management Association. In its first year, Lake Link provided 130,000 journeys, showing that people are happy to leave their cars at home if there are other options.

Ride-sharing keeps cars off the road and pollution off the lake. The league first introduced the concept of microtransit to Tahoe in 2018 with a self-funded pilot project. The model has since been adopted in the Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows as the Mountaineer, and across the North and West Coasts as the TART Connect.

The next time you see a show at the Tahoe Blue Event Center, plan to leave your car at home. Ride the Lake Link, ride with friends, ride a bike, or enjoy a beautiful fall evening on foot. It’s a small thing you can do to keep Tahoe Blue.

Dr. Darcy Goodman Collins is the CEO of the environmental non-profit League to Save Lake Tahoe, also known as Keep Tahoe Blue.

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