The best bus ever

The best bus ever
Jason Sievers' awesome Art in Transit bus

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer break

I'm taking a midsummer blogging break. I'll be back online in a few weeks.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bikeboy tells it!

In an excellent guest post at the Boise Guardian, Bikeboy says a mouthful about Treasure Valley growth, air quality, and leadership (or lack thereof). He writes that he wants to elect a mayor who would support "improved mass transit, both rhetorically and monetarily. Mass transit will always have to be subsidized by the taxpayers, just like the roads. But I don’t think
it’s adequate to just keep throwing taxpayer dollars at the current system, which is obviously of very limited value to very few citizens.

"Perhaps the traditional 'spoke and hub' system has run its course. Maybe it’s time to explore alternatives, like shuttle buses for downtown and other business/office centers, more park-and-ride lots out at the periphery, etc. I am NOT an expert, but I know people will be reluctant to ride a bus that’s a major inconvenience at both ends."

I think we need to keep the spoke-and-hub system, mainly because it serves people who have no other transportation, or who choose to use it (and who live close enough to do so). I'd argue somewhat with the "major inconvenience" statement. Aside from lack of service in the evenings and Sunday, I find it very easy to ride the bus from my close-in home on the Bench. Yes, it often takes planning to make my schedule mesh with the once-and-hour midday bus runs, but it can be done.

Still, Bikeboy's right that the system needs to be configured to take traffic off of I-84, via shuttle buses, more park-and-rides (since the commuter routes are a hit), and other services that will help curb the area's growing traffic and air quality woes. He also has a lot of creative ideas for bike paths along canals, bike-friendly workplaces, and restrictions on parking lots, and he hammers home the key point: that if we all chose to live closer to our work, this would not be happening. Check it out.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Riding the bus is cool

For so many reasons, it's cool to ride the bus - especially on days when our air quality is moderate or worse. Bus riders are always cool because we're helping keep extra vehicles off the road.

But literally, it's cool to ride the bus. I climbed abroad a Vista bus at 8th and Idaho about 12:15 today, after a hot walk from the YMCA. It was probably about 75 degrees on board. It felt so good.

Some of the buses seem to overdo it: One I ride on the Overland route is frequently so cold that I need to put on a sweater. But the chill still feels nice on these hot summer days.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My bus pass expires

My six-month bus pass expired the other day. Due to upcoming vacations, I am not going to buy a new one until August, when I hope to get a full annual pass. (If you've been reading the bus blog since the start, you'll recall that I tried to buy an annual pass as my New Year's Resolution last last December, but Valley Ride couldn't sell me one. I hear that's been remedied - but I'll still need to drive to Meridian (off the bus route) to buy my pass!

Did I get my money's worth from the six-month, $165 pass? I rode the bus about 140 times which - at $1 per ride - equals about $140 in bus fares. I estimate I traveled 450 miles on those trips; my car gets about 25 mpg in the city, so that's about a $55 gas savings. Add in maybe $50 or so in downtown parking fees I avoided and the small monthly discount on my car insurance, and I probably saved about $100 using the bus.

That's not a lot, but I'm not really in this for the money. I'm doing it because it's the right thing to do. People who ride the bus farther and more frequently than I do can save much more, of course - and have an even greater impact on keeping our roads and air clear. People who walk or bike save even more!

Final June stats

I rode the bus 20-something times in June. (I've been a little less diligent in logging my rides.) I stuck to the usual routes, the Vista and Overland. My goal is to ride the cool new claymation Art in Transit bus (and get a photo). Anyone know which route that's on?

I drove a whopping 721 miles in June, which will probably be my second-highest monthly total this year. The high total was due to a roadtrip to the Magic Valley (about 250 miles round trip) and another to Sagehen Reservoir (about 100 miles RT?). Other than that, it was a pretty normal month. I drove when I had to, i.e., when the buses weren't running (evenings and Sundays) or when I had errands off the routes. I've driven 2,187 miles in the first six months of this year, but I'll add on another 1,200 or so in July due to vacations.

I won't be keeping stats for July due to vacation and the fact I've temporarily let my bus pass lapse.