The best bus ever

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

Friday, May 30, 2008

High gas prices = more bus routes?

There's a story on the Statesman website saying that they're "looking into adding more rural and express routes" to accommodate demand.

But - not in Boise. In Pocatello (population 51,466). And a run between Montpelier (population 2498) and Bear Lake.

It's reasonable to assume there would be a similar increase in demand in the Boise metro area. In fact, ridership on the Caldwell-Boise bus is up 40 percent, mostly as a result of spiraling fuel prices. But there's no funding for more routes in this area, and the "visionaries" (/sarcasm) in the Idaho Legislature - at least last year's model - were unwilling to provide more latitude.

It would be interesting to know how they fund their transit in Pocatello. I'm confident it's not 100% funded by the ridership; public transit doesn't work that way anywhere, far as I know.

Maybe $4 gas has even the people in Kuna and Eagle and Meridian and Star weighing their transportation options, and coming to a realization that there aren't many. And maybe they'll ask their elected "representatives" for some leadership in the next session. One can only hope.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Talk transit this Thursday (5/22)

From the news release files:

A second open house for three related public transit projects will be held this Thursday (May 22) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 802 W. Idaho Street in downtown Boise .

The open house will be a final opportunity for public comments on the location of a multimodal transportation center in downtown Boise. Valley Regional Transit (VRT) and the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) will recommend a location in early June.

The multimodal center will connect various transportation modes and services. It will be the first of a network of facilities around the Valley. Construction is expected to begin in late 2009 or early 2010.

At the open house, the public will also review preliminary considerations for two other related projects:

Downtown circulator: A transit service that will connect primary destinations in the downtown Boise area.

I-84 priority corridor: A plan for high-capacity transit service for locations along Interstate 84 within Ada and Canyon counties.

The interrelated projects are bundled together as the Treasure Valley High Capacity Transit Study. The first open house for the study was held in January 2008. Approximately 500 people attended.

VRT and COMPASS are conducting the study in partnership with Ada County Highway District, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Capital City Development Corp., City of Boise , Downtown Business Association and Idaho Transportation Department.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's May in Motion

May in Motion seems pretty low key this year compared to a few years back. (Remember the free Friday bus rides once upon a time?) Still, there are signs that Treasure Valley residents are at least thinking about going mobile without their cars and trucks.

First of all, Friday, May 16, is National Bike/Walk to Work Day, the fabulous finish to Boise Bike Week. Bike Boy has been chronicling the week's events - and the joy of year-round biking to work - at his blog right here.

Also, this weekend is the first-ever Idaho Green Expo, which will feature exhibits and seminars on transportation alternatives, among many other topics.

I'll also be interested to hear from Valley Ride whether bus ridership is up in recent months. It sure seems to be.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ready for $4-a-gallon gas?

These cities are, largely due to their high density, walkable housing patterns and excellent public transit:

1. San Francisco
2. New York
3. Chicago
4. Washington, DC
5. Seattle
6. Portland, OR
7. Boston
8. Philadelphia
9. Oakland

The list was offered last night at a workshop on "Visualizing Density," sponsored by COMPASS. Click here for more on the presentation on why "density" doesn't need to be a dirty word.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The 'Pearl' of Boise?

A "back to the future" program on Boise's former trolley system closed out the 2007-2008 Fettuccine Forum series last week, as historian Barbara Perry Bauer took a packed Rose Room crowd on a ride with the city's electric streetcar systems of yore.

After the presentation, about 20 of us took a tour retracing some of those old routes and a possible new one. Led by Boise City Council member Elaine Clegg and Boise State history prof Todd Shallat, we saw firsthand how trolleys were largely responsible for the development of Boise's coolest neighborhoods, including the North and East ends, and how a new wave of trolleys could boost redevelopment in Boise's West End.

Tentative plans call for one streetcar line to run east-west roughly from St. Luke's on the east side of downtown out to the Boise River at about 30th Street, and another to run north-south from the Capitol to Boise State, and perhaps the Boise Depot. Planners believe that areas along the route - especially in the seriously underdeveloped Main Street corridor west of downtown - could someday resemble what has happened, in part because of trolley service, in Portland's Pearl District and Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. Of course, funding remains cloudy given the legislature's unwillingness to allow local communities to support transit improvements.

But it's good to hold this vision. As the trolley made its way through the Linen District, it seemed very much in place amid the throngs that were moving to and from First Thursday activities at the Modern Hotel, as well as couples and families simply out for a stroll on a fine spring evening. If this is happening at 15th Street, why can't it move westward, block by block, until the whole West End is lined with walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly housing, businesses, entertainment venues, and more?