The best bus ever

The best bus ever
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's resolutions for Valley Ride

If you could suggest transit-related New Year's resolutions for Valley Ride and Boise leaders, what would they be?

Tops on my list: Evening service to and from downtown Boise, including BSU. Even if we could only get buses to run until 10 p.m. or so (maybe midnight on the weekends), it'd be a huge improvement and help cut down on the traffic that now snakes around 9th and Front streets whenever there's any sort of event at Qwest Arena.

We've all heard a lot about a downtown circulator trolley, too. It's already been offered for special events (for BSU games, during the holidays). Can 2007 be the year it becomes fully operational?

I'd also love to see special concert-night transportation to and from the Idaho Center in Nampa. Imagine catching a ride from, say, downtown, the BSU campus, or Towne Square Mall and not having to deal with pre- or post-concert traffic hassles. And now that our Broncos have hit the big time, how about park-and-ride game-day service next fall from convenient spots around the valley?

Finally, how about Sunday morning bus service so folks could ride to and from church?


Dean said...

Hi Julie,

Thank you for starting this blog. My name is Dean gunderson and I serve on the VRT Board and its Planning & Operational Committee.

Like you I regularly ride the bus and I'm interested to see if your experiences jive with mine.

Keep up the good work!
- Dean

Tara A. Rowe said...

What an awesome idea for a blog, Julie!! My bus riding experience in Pocatello is quite limited because the buses here shut down around 6pm and I'm generally on campus until later, but all fourteen of my "roommates" are daily bus riders and we have quite the stories around this place about bus travel! ;)

The Nickel-Plated JA said...

I've long maintained that late-night public transit, a la New York and Chicago, is one of the best, most effective ways to solve two problems at once... drunk driving (by cutting out the driving) and people reluctant to use transit out of fear of being stranded while working late. I can recall a number of occasions when Chicago's fine rail-and-bus system facilitated some serious partying action, and conversely several occasions when I was left wanting for a way home after working late by Green Bay's early-ending (not unlike Boise now) bus service.

In the software industry, there's a concept called "positive network effects" -- the more people who use something, the more useful it becomes to others. Extending bus service into the evening and night has the potential to create just that sort of effect, building a "critical mass" by adding those users tipped over the margin by long hours and/or happy hour.

Julie in Boise said...

Dean, thanks for dropping by. I'll be especially interested in your comments. (As a board member, are you free to suggest resolutions?)

Tara, our buses here basically shut down between 6 and 7, too - in a city of 200,000 and a metro area of a half a million people! It sounds like you and your roomies (14?!) are pretty dedicated, which is great. From what I know of Poky's transit system, the coverage is fairly good during the hours it runs.

Nickel-plated JA, doesn't it seem that Boise's taxi population has risen with the growth in downtown nightlife? I'd think the Downtown Boise Association would jump on the idea of more evening transit for the very reason you state: It'd help keep folks downtown longer - eating, drinking, shopping, attending events. It's not as if there's a lack of things to do downtown - including work late. And the "positive network effects" is just what I'd like to help build via this blog.

Yossarian_22 said...

The most important thing anyone interested in improving public transit in Boise/Ada County can do this year, and very soon, is notify their state legislators that they MUST pass the Local Options Tax permissions bill that was drafted up by the Coalition for Regional Public Transportation.

This bill will only allow a regional government entity to ASK the voters of a city, town or county if they wish to add a 1/2% sales tax for that region, so that those revenues can be applied toward public transit improvements.

If we don't win this one, you can forget about any help for public transit. Mark Carnopis can explain the details of what kind of funding hell they are going through just to keep the current system going.

Julie in Boise said...

Yossarian_22, that is a great point, though you may be preaching to the choir.

As far as I know, the entire Boise delegation is solidly behind local option taxing authority. The real key will be to convince Canyon County legislators and others beyond the Ada-Canyon metro area, am I right?

I do plan to cover this issue on the Boise Bus Blog as it unfolds in the legislature. Is a copy of the bill available online yet?

Julie in Boise said...

P.S. I'd love to have Mark Carnopis explain the current funding mechanism for Valley Ride and the challenges it faces in the next few years.

Yossarian_22 said...

You are correct in that enough Idaho legislators must be convinced to vote for the measure.

The effort is really targeted for the Treasure Valley, in that TVT is the serving institution that runs the buses.

The real hurdle will be getting Canyon and Meridian and some rural reps on board. The principal legs are on JFAC (19 on that committee).

MountainGoat said...

Thanks for the new blog and all the info. My sister commutes from Canyon County to her Boise job and to BSU nearly 7 days a week. She's looking for ways to cut transportation costs (reducing carbon emissions would be a bonus) and we've discussed using the bus before.

One problem we've seen is that the intercounty buses only run on weekdays and there's no service after about 7 or 8 pm. Of course using the bus during the week would help but it would be nice to see a weekend intercounty route added and maybe one that ran later at night.

Julie in Boise said...

MountainGoat, I agree with both those suggestions, especially evening service - but a weekend intercounty route would be great, too.

Your sis may find that, although the current bus system doesn't work for her all the time, it might work SOME of the time. Unless she has to remain in Boise every evening, maybe she could try a bus commute a few days a week (or a month, even) and drive the rest.

Too many people think of bus riding as an all-or-nothing proposition. But if people would try to take the bus (or walk, bike, or carpool) even 10 percent of the time, it would help boost demand and make a huge difference in our traffic and air quality.