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.