Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Valley hails start of fixed-stop era
About three dozen people gathered on The Grove in downtown Boise on Tuesday to mark the start of fixed-stop bus service in the Treasure Valley. Although some signs remain to be installed, area leaders and transit officials Tuesday hailed the fixed stops as a sign that Valley Ride, the area's bus system, is getting ready for bigger and better improvements to come.
Mayor Dave Bieter pointed to reports of overflowing buses as evidence that the area's appetite for transit is growing. Before and after the noon event, Bieter and BSU history professor Todd Shallat led people on free bus tours tracing the same route that the proposed downtown circulator streetcar would take. "It's a fluid process and there's a lot of legwork to do," he said, yet the streetcar revival is generating "more buzz and excitement than any other project" on the city's docket.
Several leaders from outlying towns rode buses to the event. Mayor John Evans of Garden City cited the benefits of regional cooperation, noting that when Garden City tried to run its own bus system years ago, one driver calling in sick meant 100 percent of the staff was missing. He added that there were 17 people on the bus he rode to downtown Boise mid-morning.
There was only one empty seat on the bus that Meridian councilmen Charlie Rountree and David Zaremba and state Senator Shirley McKague took to Boise. Zaremba described how, en route, they met a young couple with a baby in a stroller and a man with a bike using the bus, too. Zaremba expressed support for a local-option tax to enact the Treasure Valley in Transit plan to bring far better, more frequent service to the area, as well as better intra-city service to Meridian, the largest city in Idaho without its own bus service.
Afterward, I asked McKague whether she, too, would support local option authority. "Oh, people are taxed too much already," she said. I explained that a local-option tax would only go into effect if two-thirds of the voters wanted it on a vote held on a major election date. She was non-committal but thanked me for the information. If you live in District 20, perhaps you'd like to contact McKague to let her know that you appreciate her support of Vallley Ride and that you, too, would like to have the opportunity to decide for yourself whether we can invest in better local transit.
Posted by Julie Fanselow at 9/09/2008