The GUARDIAN has been making a lot of “casts” trying to hook some big fish as we angle for public transit and highway ideas. All we have seen from the politicos is a mad dash to continue to pollute the water and offer up bottom feeding trash fish.
The ideas we have proffered come from conversations with intelligent caring people experienced in the area of transit, government, media relations, and just good Idaho people.
It is an understatement to say we are disappointed with elected officials. They have demonstrated a profound inability to cope with the mess they have created through growth.
The current bus system is shameful and now they want to toss more money at it and then build trains. To save space and stimulate exchange of ideas here are some points to ponder:
–The ACHD commuter van pool does not operate within the city of Boise. They have about 80 vans in this good system, but they run to Nampa, Emmett, Mt. Home, Eagle etc.
We would urge immediate investment of $3 million to purchase 100 vans to operate within the city. Liberal rules and a mandate to offer rides to anyone needing a ride would move a lot of people.
–Preoccupation with light rail or trains is killing us. Trains can run only on tracks and it would cost billions to build and a lifetime of debt. Instead, for a fraction of the cost we could run 80 passenger articulated buses DIRECTLY to selected final destinations like the Capitol Mall, Micron, BSU, etc.
–A transit terminal in downtown Boise for $72 million is ill advised. Downtown is not the center of the universe. The center of the universe is along Eagle Road at Fairview or I-84.
–Someone is floating a trolley loop plan in downtown Boise which would have spurs east to Broadway, west (probably to the 30th St. dreamland) and to BSU. Little more than a two mile total. For the $72 million price tag of the terminal they could purchase 2,400 vans
and run 100 of them every minute 24 hours a day on that route.
–A free rubber tire trolley paid for at least in part by the Down Town merchants failed miserably.
–The big expense of a bus system is drivers and their benefits. Vans driven by volunteers would be much cheaper. If there are folks who want a vehicle that must stay in the city and are willing to share the ride–let’s make it easy for them to have it.
–Boise gave its bus fleet to Valley Ride under the guise of “regional transit.” We understand there is a “Boise Division” which has a fare structure different than the rest of the system and union drivers with no real mechanism to integrate it.
–The sudden interest in all these schemes is to justify a proposal before the legislature to allow cities to impose “local option” taxes earmarked for highways and transit. If the law is passed, locals still must get permission of the citizens for any of these “legacy” projects.
The GUARDIAN is aware that any public transit system will never pay its way. However, we need plans that will work, can be modified and are not intended to encourage growth. We feel there is a common thread among the politicos to increase the population in order to justify their dreams of a train. It becomes a never ending cycle with no resulting “progress.”.
We say build decent safe highways and fill them with buses. A $500,000 bus can replace 80 cars on the I-84 and 100 vans has the potential of replacing 1,000 cars in the city. Bus routes can also be changed or added at will. Try that with a light rail train!
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