Lake Tahoe Passenger Ferry


The proposed project includes passenger ferry service across Lake Tahoe between Tahoe City and Ski Run Marinas. The waterborne transit concept originated decades ago when vehicle emissions were far more polluting than they are now. Although FOWS recognizes the benefits of improving public transit options, the proposed project will create significant air and water quality impacts to the West Shore and Lake Tahoe, as well as increase the spread of invasive species in the Lake. According to the NOI/NOP and Regional Transportation Plan (RTP):

  • The ferries are estimated to require 2,000 gallons of gas per day to operate, creating significant air and water pollution (likely far more than if passengers were to drive their vehicles). This runs contrary to the TRPA Compact’s mandate to reduce air pollution and protect Lake Tahoe.
  • The ferries plan to use the Tahoe Keys marina for maintenance and docking, thus carrying more invasive milfoil into Lake Tahoe and increasing the rate of spread of existing and future invasive species.
  • The project is estimated to cost $42.2 million in existing federal tax dollars to implement, and ongoing maintenance will be around $4.6 million per year. Although some money will be made from fares, the likely low off-season ridership coupled with the need to keep fares affordable (if this is truly to serve as a public transit alternative to driving) raise significant questions regarding the future viability of this project.
  • This project will also require additional parking lots near these marinas, although consideration of these impacts are delayed by the NOI/NOP document.

FOWS believes public transit should aim to provide cleaner alternatives to the use of private vehicles, however the proposed ferry service appears to do the exact opposite, and at enormous cost to the public.

Notice of Intent/Notice of Preparation (NOI/NOP) issued 11/11/13;   Read FOWS Comments 1/2/2014

The Tahoe Transportation District (TTD) continues to work on the draft EIR for this project. A release date has not been provided.