Be aware of funding issues when deploying ITS transit systems.

Experience from the Lake Tahoe Coordinated Transit System.

California,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

As part of the evaluation of the Lake Tahoe Coordinated Transit System, interviews were conducted among the stakeholders. A key topic discussed in all the interviews was funding, including both capital and operational funding.
The following set of lessons learned addresses the different aspects of funding that arose during the course of this project.
  • Coordinate your funding efforts among the stakeholder groups. The Tahoe area was successful in securing federal funding for capital expenses of the CTS, in large part because the stakeholder groups worked together to present a unified request for Federal funding. Local match funding was obtained from a joint effort from several different organizations, including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the Transportation and Water Quality Coalition, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Gaming Alliance, the North Tahoe Lake Association, and the Forestry Service.
  • Recognize the importance of having experience with the federal appropriations process for transit funding. The stakeholders’ lack of experience with the Federal transportation appropriations process increased the time and effort required to obtain federal funding for the project. As a result, the stakeholder group has been less successful in obtaining funds for the operational side of the CTS.
    • For example, stakeholders were not aware that the designation of South Lake Tahoe region as "rural" (i.e. it does not meet the population density requirements defined in the 2000 Census for an urbanized area) would severely limit the region’s ability to secure federal funding for transit operational costs. The majority of operational funding for the CTS comes from California and Nevada state funding, contributions of the casinos properties, and fare income from the system.
  • Anticipate public resistance to increased local taxes for operational funding. Several stakeholders mentioned that local taxes are a source of potential operational funding for CTS. However, residents have voted down several previous attempts to increase local taxes. Educating the public about the benefits of a transit system will be essential to winning public support for a local tax increase.
  • Secure operational funding before implementing the system. Obtaining operational funding has proved to be the biggest funding challenge for the stakeholder group. Due to a lack of funding, plans to expand the system had to be placed on hold.
Stakeholders mentioned a number of funding issues regarding the CTS project. Among the key issues were the coordination of funding efforts among stakeholders, the importance of understanding the federal appropriations process for transit funding, and the need to secure operational funding before implementing the system. Securing adequate funding is critical to the continued operations of the coordinated transit system and will enable future expansion or enhancements to the system.

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Evaluation of the South Lake Tahoe Coordinated Transit System (CTS) Project Phase III Evaluation Report

Author: Rephlo, J., and D. Woodley

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration

Prepared by SAIC for the USDOT FHWA

Source Date: 4/14/2006

EDL Number: 14316

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/3682

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Analyst:

Margaret Petrella
RITA/Volpe National Transportation Systems Center


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United States

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Lesson ID: 2008-00433