Ex-Google Engineer Donates $1 Million for Tahoe Transportation

A former Google Inc. software engineer has pledged $1 million to help launch public bus service between the Carson Valley and the Stateline casino area on Lake Tahoe's south shore.

Ray Sidney's donation to the local transportation agency BluGo will be used to get the new route going. Many casino workers currently commute by private vehicle between the Minden area and Stateline.

"We don't want to run empty shuttle buses, so we'll see if it works first," Sidney said. "The ultimate goal is to help locals ... There is a need for public transportation."

Harrah's Tahoe spokesman John Packer said it would take several thousand dollars annually over three years to establish the service and plans call for ridership to eventually finance it.

"Sidney stepped up to get it going. (He) saw an opportunity to contribute to help the community and the environment," Packer told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.

BluGo and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency lack operational money for transportation and needed help to get the service going, Packer added.

Sidney, who moved to Stateline after the Internet search engine went public, is no stranger to philanthropy.

In January, the triathlete donated $250,000 to replace a South Lake Tahoe, Calif., track that was used to provide high-elevation training for American runners competing in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Other past donations include $200,000 for Kahle Community Center's weight room in Stateline, and $1.7 million for a state-of-the-art football field and track at Douglas High School in nearby Minden.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)