The best bus ever

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

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Let's stimulate transit

Transit played a central role in Boise Mayor Dave Bieter's State of the City speech on Tuesday. Bieter both reiterated plans for a steel-rail streetcar system in and near the downtown core and support for local option authority. The Idaho Statesman has coverage here and an editorial here.

As for Bieter's local-option hopes, we're all thinking, "Yeah, good luck with that." But then I heard this commentary on the public radio show Marketplace today, in which Robert Reich, the former Treasury Secretary, suggested that - although public transit's moment has arrived - our local transit systems are woefully inadequate; they're facing the same soaring fuel costs that have sent people scurrying onto transit; and they're also facing funding shortfalls due to dwindling sales tax revenues. So why not include transit expansion and modernization funds in the next national stimulus package?

It's a great idea, and it would mesh well with other stimulus ideas that would help create green jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Transit will never pay for itself. It's time to give it the federal support it deserves.


Bikeboy said...

Julie... traditionally a big chunk of Boise's transit funding has been provided by the Feds. And I agree with you that the funding MUST come from a level of government higher than either city OR county, if the transit improvements will cross county lines.

I'm skeptical about the merits of a downtown trolley system. Some may see such a proposal as forward-thinking and visionary; time will tell. But there are certainly more pressing needs in the TREASURE VALLEY, than a rail-based downtown-loop system that will mostly attract ridership because it's a novelty, not because it goes to destinations.

I've always thought the only thing that would attract more riders to public transit is a FINANCIAL incentive. And maybe $4-plus gas will have that positive effect. I'd like to see ValleyRide tweak their routes for maximum ridership, and then use packed buses as evidence that the need is there.

And THE NEW I-84 LANE SHOULD BE "HOV," AT LEAST DURING PEAK HOURS! (Who do we talk to about that??)

Julie Fanselow said...

Bikeboy, I definitely agree with you that more and better bus service is a MUCH more pressing need than the downtown trolley system.

Making the new I-84 lane "High Occupancy Vehicle Only" during rush hours is another excellent idea. Ask your legislators and write a letter to the Statesman and the ITD.