There was a fascinating collection of transit-related articles in today's Idaho Statesman. A cover story featured the Ada County Highway District's van pool program which - who knew?! - is the "oldest multi-employer vanpool program in the country." It's been rolling since 1976 and currently has 65 van pools serving more than 700 people. Many users of the program live in Canyon County. In fact, more than 13 percent of Canyon County residents commute via carpool or vanpool, compared to 10.7 percent nationally. The number is rising as growing numbers of Canyon County workers (many of whom work in Ada County) have commutes nearly as long as people in Seattle.
A sidebar to the article gives a handy overview of the current transit situation in Idaho which, in a word, is bleak. Disappearing federal funds, $1.7 billion in unfunded transportation needs, and lack of local funding mechanisms are all conspiring to put the Treasure Valley farther behind on meeting existing needs, never mind preparing for the future. The article adds that the same transportation coalition that worked for a local option tax will be back for the 2008 Legislature, and that if lawmakers balk again at allowing southwestern Idahoans to vote on a local option tax, transit backers will take the matter to voters via an initiative.