Boise Guardian

Transit Riders Decline With Gas Price Dip

There’s good news and bad news on the commuter and bus business.

The good news is the price of gas is down, so motorists are not spending so much to commute.

The bad news is the price of gas is down, so motorists are not spending so much to commute.

No matter how you cut it, ridership for both the Valley Regional Transit public buses and the Commuter Ride van pools has declined in the past few years. That has caused a bit of a scramble for public money and officials are looking for ways to find cash and riders.

We won’t even try to write a comprehensive explanation, but the Idaho Code which enables the VRT also gives the agency total control of ALL public transit in Ada and Canyon counties. That includes the buses, the commuter vans, and even the Boise Green Bike scheme.

There is a plan being bounced around to give the commuter ride to an Enterprise car rental subsidiary that contracts with local authorities to provide a “for profit” system similar to the existing ACHD Commuter Ride outfit. Of course that includes large doses of public money.

Like all things in government, politics is an issue. The VRT executive board seems to be leaning toward the Enterprise deal, despite a one year old deal in Canyon which has never carried a rider.

Ada County Highway District has 133 vans, mostly 13 passenger models, which are mostly funded through fares and subsidies. VRT wants to regain control of that system and has full authority to do it. One of their big selling points is eliminating the vans (which Enterprise would provide) and a claim that 32% of the current vans are unused. ACHD has sent a letter to riders in an effort to generate support for their service which they claim is viewed as a success.

The VRT board is comprised of local officials from each city as well as Ada and Canyon. The organization is so big and cumbersome that most of the decisions come from the Executive Board.

The bus people won’t let BSU’s shuttle use the new transit center, so they dump commuters at curbside near the Clearwater building downtown.

Meanwhile ACHD is in the midst of a scuffle over a “gentleman’s agreement” with VRT dealing with lane use in exchange for commuter ride concessions. Look for a lot more to come on the issue, including Boise City’s push for more bikes and fewer cars downtown.

It will come to a head August 7 when the VRT Executive board makes a presentation to the members. There is a split between Team Dave loyalists and the ACHD traditionalists. A final vote will come in September.

If you are looking for details, sift through the 57 PAGE REPORT.

Also, here is the ACHD LETTER sent to van pool riders. Keeping C-Ride at ACHD Message