A new luxury shuttle will take skiers to Tahoe. It won’t stop in Sacramento – for now

A Bay Area entrepreneur says there’s a market for a luxury winter bus to Tahoe.
A Bay Area entrepreneur says there’s a market for a luxury winter bus to Tahoe.

A Bay Area entrepreneur is launching a luxury weekend bus service to Tahoe for people who hate driving in Tahoe’s often congested winter traffic.

Unfortunately for Sacramentans, the bus doesn’t stop here – at least not yet.

Greg Riessen, a transportation planner and avid skier, will launch Tahoe Convoy in two weeks, running Friday night buses to Truckee, Squaw Valley and Tahoe City, with a return bus Sunday evening.

The buses are used weekdays by Facebook and Google employees in Silicon Valley. They will allow people who own second homes in Tahoe or who stay weekends in hotels and rental homes to travel in style, with Wi-Fi, television, a bathroom and other amenities.

Riessen said his company is starting carefully, with service every other weekend and only a handful of Bay Area and North Lake Tahoe stops. He said the company will add a South Lake Tahoe bus and run every weekend if ridership is good.

He said he would consider adding stops in Sacramento on the Interstate 80 and Highway 50 corridors if Sacramento residents show enough interest. He said he added an option for potential users to vote for Sacramento as a future destination, alongside other possible stops in the Bay Area and Davis.

The website is at www.tahoeconvoy.com.

The first Tahoe Convoy buses will run during the Feb. 2 weekend, then during the Presidents Day weekend. The holiday weekend bus will return on Monday rather than Sunday. Initial planned stops include one in the valley at Fairfield.

Riessen said he believes a new market niche is emerging for weekend-long, non-car travel to and around Tahoe. “You see all these thousands of cars on Friday night and Sunday night. I think these people would take a bus if it existed.”

Winter weekend traffic congestion on mountain highways and around the Tahoe Basin has become a hot topic after last year’s heavy snowfall brought more winter visitors and led to clogged roads and lengthy traffic jams.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe, a long-standing environmental group, is looking at the Tahoe Convoy to determine how many people may want to ditch their cars before or when they get to Tahoe.

“Tahoe Convoy offers a potential solution ... that we can learn from for future planning,” deputy director Jesse Patterson wrote in an email.

Tahoe Convoy bus riders can use ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, as well as taxis or one of the basin’s two bus companies to take them to their final destinations, Riessen said. He said he would like to persuade major ski resorts to dispatch buses to his company’s transit stops.

Tahoe transportation officials say the basin’s transit companies have not yet created the level of service, however, they believe will be needed ultimately to persuade large amounts of visitors to leave their cars at home.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak