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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Itty-bitty Jackson trumps Boise bus sked

I was in Jackson, Wyoming, on business last week. Jackson and Teton County have a population of about 20,000, or one-tenth that of Boise - but Jacksonians enjoy bus service from Southern Teton Area Rapid Transit from 6:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night, as this sign attests. What's more, the in-town circulator bus is free. Did I mention it runs seven days a week?

START is funded by city and county tax dollars as well as some federal money. In addition to the free in-town bus, a favorite with skiers this time of year, it has fare-based routes to Jackson Hole Resort and the commuter communities of Star Valley to Jackson's south. Next month, START will begin service to the Idaho side of the Tetons, with two daily round-trip runs from Jackson to Victor and Driggs. There's even talk of extending service to Grand Teton National Park.

START buses are beautiful vehicles, some of them wrapped in scenic shots of the Teton area. The system had 625,000 riders last year - a new record. I wonder how that compares to Valley Ride's annual ridership.

8 comments:

wolf21m said...

Wow - 625,000! I don't have 2006 numbers, but in 2005 Valley Ride carried roughly 990,000 people. I would assume that Jackson achieves this for two reasons: 1) higher coverage of their community; 2) expanded schedules. I assume teh longer schedules makes it much more convenient for the people who work in the tourism industry who don't likely work 9-5. Thanks for teh report.

Julie in Boise said...

You bet. And yes, this definitely shows that longer hours lead to more people using the bus.

How many people in Boise work 9 to 5 these days?! Especially in our booming retail and service industries, you can bet many people are working way beyond bankers' hours.

I know it would cost ValleyRide big bucks to run all the buses until 10 or 11. But could we have a few trial routes run that long, just to see what happens?

Coupled with employers buying employee bus passes to free up parking for customers, longer hours could be a boon for ValleyRide and its users.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh...did you bother to look at the actual bus schedule? There are only two routes and the one that runs late is a circulator between the ski resorts and hotels.

Read before you write.

Julie in Boise said...

Anonymous,

Go here and you will see there are SIX routes.

http://www.startbus.com/startschedule.htm

Julie

Julie in Boise said...

Amended April 9 ... the spring schedule has five routes.

Anonymous said...

an idea might be to try it on First Thursdays maybe between Meridian and Boise and along Broadway route

alpinejb said...

Actually I'm a supervisor at the START bus in Jackson. We have about 7-8 different routes that rotate seasonal based on ridership needs. We operate on both sides of the Tetons (in Victor and Driggs) and as far south as Star Valley in Lincoln county.
The reason that we are so successful has nothing to do with schedules and routes, it has to do with our PR dept. We work very hardly to get local community buisness to contribute to our service by subsidizing bus passes. The local ski resort pays over $50,000 a year to provide free bus passes to their employess. We have similar programs with the T.V.A and local hotels. It just makes sense. If you can make the bus free to ~1/3 of your ridership then you are going to get a lot of riders.
You might talk to Micron about doing the same thing.

alpinejb said...

Actually I'm a supervisor at the START bus in Jackson. We have about 7-8 different routes that rotate seasonal based on ridership needs. We operate on both sides of the Tetons (in Victor and Driggs) and as far south as Star Valley in Lincoln county.
The reason that we are so successful has nothing to do with schedules and routes, it has to do with our PR dept. We work very hardly to get local community buisness to contribute to our service by subsidizing bus passes. The local ski resort pays over $50,000 a year to provide free bus passes to their employess. We have similar programs with the T.V.A and local hotels. It just makes sense. If you can make the bus free to ~1/3 of your ridership then you are going to get a lot of riders.
You might talk to Micron about doing the same thing.