The best bus ever

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Reminder: air summit today

Just a reminder that Boise City Council plans a town hall meeting at 7 tonight (Tuesday November 27) at City Hall to discuss the area's declining air quality. The meeting will also air live and taped on Channel 24/7 several times over the next few days. Click here for more details.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's a TRAIN! No... it's a BUS! No...

[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.

Toot! Toot!

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.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Just the facts

Here are some interesting statistics distributed at the recent Idaho Transit Summit:

Miles of bus transit
Oregon 2,970
Utah 1,612
Idaho 217

Miles of light rail transit
Oregon 77
Utah 30
Idaho 0

Transit passenger miles/2005
Oregon 486,880,700
Utah 174,424,500
Idaho 6,900,000

Miles of public road
Oregon 66,902
Idaho 46,456
Utah 41,852

Oregon 3,620,771
Utah 2,507,417
Idaho 1,432,664

And here are a few more eye-opening statistics from the Idaho Statesman's November 18 editorial on air quality:

2007 good air quality days (to November 14): 181
2007 days with air-quality alerts: 139

2001-2006 average good air quality days: 269.7
2001-2006 average air-quality alert days: 95.5

(Space here to draw your own conclusions ... )

By the way, the Boise City Council will hold an air quality summit at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, November 27, at City Hall.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Draft legislation available

The Valley Regional Transit website has links to the proposed legislation that would allow voters to decide on local option taxes to fund construction and maintenance of public transportation and highways. Public comments are welcome through November 29.

As I write this, I'm sitting in Spokane, a city that is almost exactly the same as Boise in land mass and population. Somehow, Spokane manages to have at least twice as much transit as we do: more routes, longer hours, evening and Sunday service, you name it. Three years ago, more than two-thirds of Spokane residents voted to double their local transit sales tax from three-tenths to six-tenths of a cent to make up for lost state funds.

It saddens me greatly that in Idaho, we have to make road-building part of the package if we want to get better transit. But hey, we're Idaho, where the legislature is still run by ruralites who don't give a damn about Ada and Canyon counties, and - let's be frank - a few urban legislators who still haven't come around to the fact that traffic is killing our valley. The Boise Bus Blog will probably support the proposed legislation because it appears like the only way to improve what has to be the worst transit system for a metro area of our size anywhere in the United States.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bus baby arrives; Seattle votes

I'm a big fan of Seattle's Bus Chick, whom I learned about via the Transit Blog Aggregator. Bus Chick Carla and her husband Adam (a.k.a. Bus Nerd, whom she met on the bus, of course) rode two buses to the hospital to give birth to their new baby. Her name is Rosa, after the "original bus chick," Carla writes. Read more here.

Meanwhile in Seattle, voters will decide Tuesday whether or not to pass a Roads and Transit package (Proposition 1), which would fund both a 50-mile light rail extension and more roads and bridges in the Puget Sound area. Many environmentalists are torn over Prop 1 because it would mean a lot of new roads in addition to new transit. In a preview of what we may face here in the Treasure Valley (where transit proponents are now backing a local option tax that would allow money to be used for roads and transit), Michael at Carless in Seattle genuinely agonized over his vote and finally voted yes. Read his deliberations here.