[Guest post by bikeboy.]
Japan Rail, the company that operates passenger trains on the islands of Japan, has just completed testing on a vehicle they call the Dual Mode Vehicle (DMV).
It looks like a bus. But it runs on rails... OR on the street! An informational web brochure about the vehicle can be found by clicking here.
The visionaries in Treasure Valley like to imagine that light rail from Caldwell to Boise might someday be feasible. A few years back, Mayor Brent even spent thousands bringing in a "Regional Sprinter" train from Germany for a demo.
One of the obstacles is, once the train arrives at the Boise Depot, most folks are still quite a distance from their ultimate destinations. Well, imagine if the train, upon arriving at the Depot, could retract its rail-wheels, and continue on down the road to downtown Boise, where people could catch a bus. Huh? Huh?!!
This visionary is imagining a half-dozen of these DMVs loading up passengers at various park-and-rides, etc., around Caldwell, Nampa, Meridian, and then getting on the tracks (with all track-traffic eastbound in the morning). They take the tracks - blowing past that Interstate bumper-to-bumper - to the Boise (train) Depot, where they hop onto the pavement and proceed downtown, depositing the passengers at a downtown Boise multi-mode transit depot. Once downtown, passengers could catch a real bus or taxi, or maybe even walk. (Or, the DMVs could deploy directly from the Depot to various destinations around the city. Throw on some bike racks, and they would be even more flexible.) Then, in the afternoon, those half-dozen DMVs load up their passengers at the same downtown depot, drive to the train Depot and hop the rail... which is all-westbound in the afternoon. They speed, unimpeded by rush-hour traffic, to their various destinations in west Treasure Valley.
A bit more about the author: I personally lean toward bicycles-as-alternative-transportation, but realize the 2-wheeler isn't practical for everybody. I share Julie's enthusiasm about public transit, and appreciate her allowing me "guest poster" privileges. As a native Boisean, I am deeply concerned about the current direction (L.A.-style sprawl) that my home town is headed.