A Year in Review of the Palisades Tahoe Reservation Parking Program

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Editor’s note: This My Shot is part of a FaceOff. Read Stephan Haase’s argument, Palisades’ Parking Reservation Has Room for Improvement.

By Mike Martin

Now that we’ve closed out the first season of our parking program, we are thrilled to share the progress made, express gratitude for community participation, and outline plans for continued improvement. The past year has been marked by significant achievements in tackling traffic gridlock, fostering sustainable transportation alternatives, and strengthening partnerships within our community.

One of the largest successes of the parking program has been the substantial reduction in gridlock, leading to improved traffic flow. The forced turnarounds of vehicles on Olympic Valley Road when the parking lots filled up used to cause backups onto Highway 89, and that did not happen this year. Residents living on Olympic Valley Road have experienced firsthand the positive impact, with weekends reclaimed from the headache of traffic jams. This improvement enhances the quality of life for locals and the overall resort experience for visitors.

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The incentivized Park & Ride shuttles and Sherwood shuttle have been a remarkable success with participation skyrocketing from 500 individuals during the 2022/23 season to nearly 5,000 this season. Through guest incentives, subsidization efforts, and employee carpool rewards, we have successfully encouraged eco-friendly choices while significantly reducing the number of vehicles on the road and saving 239 metric tons of CO2. Additionally, the average number of people per car during reservation periods has increased by 154% (from 1.3 to 3.31 people per car), further contributing to reduction in gridlock.

Our Sports Basement and Bay Area buses and Mountaineer service have played crucial roles in sustaining alternative transportation options. With significant increases in ridership, these services have not only reduced vehicles on the roadways, but also provided convenient and accessible transportation for visitors and residents alike.

Our parking program is here to stay, with plans to continue a mix of free and paid parking. We are committed to refining where possible to reduce friction points in the process. We’ll continue to improve our parking reservation system, ensuring it accommodates all guests and employees, factoring in weather conditions and events. We also aim to strengthen our destination stewardship plan through collaboration with local tourism industry partners and community engagement.

However, we recognize that our efforts cannot succeed without the support of the community. We urge everyone to consider alternative commuting methods such as carpooling, using Park & Ride, or taking public transit. By spreading awareness and engaging in conversations about collective progress, we can continue to make meaningful strides in reducing traffic congestion and enhancing accessibility in the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee region.

Lastly, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to our partners — the U.S. Forest Service, CHP, North Tahoe Community Alliance, Visit Truckee-Tahoe, Sports Basement, Caltrans, Nevada County, Placer County, TART, and Mountaineer — for their support and invaluable contributions. Together, we are paving the way for a more sustainable and vibrant community.

The success of our parking program demonstrates what can be achieved when a community comes together to address challenges with innovative solutions and collaborative efforts. As we look forward to next season, let us remain committed to building a future where accessibility, sustainability, and community thrive hand in hand.

~ Mike Martin is the vice president of base operations for Palisades Tahoe. Originally from Montana, Martin started off at Palisades as a lift operator. After working (and skiing) all over the world with several global Fortune 500 companies, such as Northrop Grumman, Best Buy, and Gap, he returned to Palisades following the big winter of 2016/17.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The money spent on the parking reservation system would be better spent contributing to a massive expansion of public buses. Chamonix is somewhat similar to the North Tahoe resort area–multiple separate ski areas spread over many miles. I have never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a free bus there. People will use mass transportation when the wait is short. Perhaps convenient free mass transit will alleviate the road congestion. If not, funding sources for dedicated bus lanes will need to be found, with a hefty contribution from the resorts,