Pick A Topic And Say Your Piece

The GUARDIAN has  been swamped with the day job, but didn’t want to ignore you find folks.

Here are some random topics to get you started:

–KEMPTHORN seems to have gotten some good press from Rocky Barker over at the Daily Paper.  The former guv, junior senator, and Boise mayor is about to leave his Interior Secretary job after just two years.  He didn’t seem  to fair well as Idaho Guv, will history treat him better as secretary?

–GRAY SKY seems to be the watch word in the Vallye.  Anyone headed up Bogus way just to see the sun?

–The GUARDIAN rode Portland’s MAX lightrail last week.  It makes for easy getting around, but it is tied to a good bus system and juding from the stations, tunnels, bridges, etc.  it cost a TON OF MONEY.  Still think Boise is not a good candidate…we think the politicos want to have light rail and then GROW into it.  Why they can’t commit to a good bus system first defies logic.

We may add some topics to this post–especially if there is demand from comments.  Sorry about the lack of posts, but day job calls.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Portland’s MAX is great! Their commitment and dedication to rail travel has led them to creating another rail system (the Transit Mall) which will open in September of this year.

    Very expensive, you are right about that. It’s definitely a model system for the Treasure Valley (as we continue to grow). I just hope we start somewhere, buses are okay but we need to make the leap to rail sometime. Portland’s got a great street car set up as well.

    To anyone opposed to rail systems…spend a more than a month in Portland with no car. You’ll change your mind!

  2. So much for not drunk posting

  3. I think you answered your own question. There is no need for a bus system forget it.

  4. The Boise Picayune
    Jan 18, 2009, 11:15 am

    Kempthorne: Laughing stock after 9/11 for surrounding Capitol (with un-armed after the 1st day, non-body armored Guardsmen) . Oversaw a “Culture of Ethical Failure” @ Interior, and then there’s his Quarter-Million-Dollar Bathroom (With a refrigerator?!?).

    My Mom (bless her soul) had it right – “Emperor” Kempthorne.

    And he wears no clothes!

  5. So how many more public jobs can Kempthorn get to improve his retirement pay? And what was the deal about spending $235,000 to remodel a bathroom at his office that he will be gone from on Tuesday? Is that a real story? If so, he is more of an idiot that I thought.Happy to report I never voted for him – well, maybe for mayor….

  6. Personally, I think we should skip the light rail paradigm and wait for transporter technology.

  7. Pick One, Not All
    Jan 18, 2009, 6:09 pm

    The best transit systems are a solution to a problem, not one of several alternative solution to a problem. By that I mean, the state, and the city, are spending a bundle expanding the capacity to the freeway and for additional parking garages down town. Every time they do that, they make it harder for busses and trains to compete with automobile transportation, and thus, extend ever further into the future the time when, if ever, alternative modes will succeed..

    Come on “leaders”, pick a solution and go for it. But, let’s not try to fund all possible solutions simultaneously. That is just an expensive ticket to failure.

  8. Absolutely correct Shane! The Portland rail grid is a prime example of how to subsidize a transit system. It is indeed fun to ride, and with a little bit of practice, an OK way to navigate downtown. There is only one small problem. THE TRAFFIC STILL SUCKS!!!! I wonder why they are planning to pave any portion of the greater Portland area they can? You think it may be because the most effective mass transit systems serve 6% of the population!! It’s time to be realistic! Rail would be “neat”! But not at BILLIONS of dollars to initiate and more to run!!

  9. Tom Anderson
    Jan 18, 2009, 9:16 pm

    What if:

    – our near future looks nothing like our present?
    – the experts on energy are right about the dire impacts of the global peaking of oil production?
    – we waited too long to build an alternative to the oil powered economy?
    – most everyone needs to be involved in food production in the near future?
    – we waste valuable time and resources trying to prop up the industrial economy even though it can’t possibly survive?
    – our future is one where no one needs to go much of anywhere because farmers don’t commute?
    – the freight rail system is what we really need to improve so that we can get food when the ‘high energy consumption’ container trucking business goes into freefall again just like it did a few months ago?
    – our leaders positive thinking does not overcome the worlds geological reality?
    – we created a local, sustainable food system that could feed our people with good, healthy, local food?
    – we continue our fetish with ‘mobility at any cost’ and it destroys any possible future because most people end up starving to death?

    These thoughts are what keep America’s geologists up at night. Introduce yourself to a geologist and ask them what they think about ‘Peak Oil’ and our obsession with mobility.

  10. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 18, 2009, 10:32 pm

    As of July 2008 the population of portland was estimated to be 575,930 and the population of the Portland metropolitan area (MSA) was 2 million. (wikipedia)

    Boise is not in that league – not even close – and if there is a God, it never will be. And even Portland probably has too small a population to justify a rail transportation system. And if Cyclops is correct that mass transit systems serve 6% of the population, then no mass transit system anywhere is justified.

    EDITOR NOTE–The 6-10% figure, while not fixed, is the common number used. We had earlier post which said if we spend billions on transit to get 6% off the Caldwell-Boise route, we would still have 94% as dirty air and crowded roads AND growth would put us right back to the same level within a year or two (maybe longer during current economy).

  11. sam the sham
    Jan 19, 2009, 12:25 am

    Went to Idaho City to see the sun. Did not need to go too much past Hill Top to do so, but it was such a lovely drive. Not many cars on the road, the sun causing the snow to sparkle.

    very nice

    New Topic:
    If Butch wishes to save money for the state, why not decline the $4500/mo he receives for living in his own home? This is outlandish!!! Laying people off will lower the income taxes paid to the state, while drawing out less (and putting it in your own fat pocket) will save the state money. very simple math, Butch.

  12. I love Portland. About 40 years ago I lived in the Eugene area. I thought that someday my hometown of Boise would be bike friendly, support good ecological ideas. I thought that Boise was just a few years behind…..
    But having lived here for so long I have discovered that Boise will never be like Portland or Eugene. Perhaps more like LA or Orange County.
    sad, very sad.

  13. Cyclops – you gotta start somewhere. Either we go all in on an effective public transportation scheme for Boise or don’t. I hate to say it so black and white but there’s really only two directions to go. One costs money and should demand spending cuts and one is the cheap route which just adds to our existing problems.

    Also, Portland’s rail system isn’t the least bit difficult to navigate. It’s incredibly simple and anybody should be able to figure it out after looking at a map for a second. I’ve been living here for school and it’s become a staple of everyday life. The MAX/Streetcars/Buses (and hopefully the upcoming Transit Mall) are nearly always full.

    I like slim jims comment. I’m not advocating Boise to copy Portland’s set up exactly (there are obvious differences between Portland and Boise – population being the big one) but I’d rather not see Boise turn into another LA (it’s headed toward the latter’s direction).

  14. I travel to Portland several times a year and would not consider ridding the MAX until the city reduces the crime issues along the MAX. Crime on the MAX has become a regular topic with almost all the media outlets, http://www.ortem.org/history/ documents issues over the past few years. You won’t see this side of the light rail system in any of the sales brochures.

  15. Went snowshoeing this weekend, near ID City…sun felt great! I didn’t want to come back into the abyss of grayness either.

  16. I am concerned that tomorrows Coronation is too much like a Roman Triumph but General Obama has not even fought his first battle yet and I do not see anyone in the Chariot saying “Remember, thou art mortal”

    The fellow has a long way to fall

  17. Smitty: “so much for not drunk posting.”

    HAHAHAHAHA! Excellent! (I’m giving our Guardian the benefit of the doubt, and will assume he was using one of those altoids-box-size internet devices.)

    Regarding public transit, and transportation in general in Boise:

    The SLC-area light rail is awesome, too, and by most measures very successful. (The trains seem to run pretty full.) Of course, they have been given the liberty of supporting it with a slight sales tax premium… Idaho citizens can’t be trusted to make such a choice. In both Portland and SLC, I believe it’s safe to say the light rail was preceded by a successful bus system, and people were already accustomed to public transit. That doesn’t seem to be the case here yet, unfortunately.

    slim jim seems to imply that Boise isn’t “bike friendly.” I’ll have to differ with that. I’ve been a dedicated transportation cyclist in Boise since 1986, and I believe with rare exceptions, it is indeed a “friendly” climate for bicycle riding. ACHD is doing a good job of putting bike lanes where it is practical, including on all new construction. The laws are bike-friendly (I wish they were more stringently enforced). The citizenry is generally tolerant of bicycles on the roads. (And the exceptions – little blue-haired ladies, testosterone-charged teenage punks, cell-phone idiots and pick-em-up drivin’ rednecks – will be found everywhere, even Eugene.) The climate and geography are extremely bicycle-friendly. (I might not be able to convince too many people of that in January… but 10 months of the year…)

  18. Tom, if, in fact, the scenario you propose comes to pass, it will have a very simple ending. Those that want oil will take it from those that have oil by any force required. Eventually Mel Gibson will come riding in driving a very loud, fast car and do battle with the “bad guys”!
    The good news is that we will no longer have crappy air or people preaching about “peak oil”

  19. Bikeboy, my Eugene biking experience was long ago and it may not be as good as it was back then…back in the 60’s.
    I could ride from Fern Ridge (on the way to the coast) to the center of Eugene with no problem from cars. Perhaps we could liken it to riding down State Street with a baby on my back and a load of laundry on the back of the bike, from Star to downtown Boise.
    I used to bike with my two children all around Boise. I would not do that in today’s traffic. But then, one of those little kids just turned 40… traffic has increased quite a bit in the past 25 years.

  20. Here is a thought to consider. The Gov. wants to raise the motor fuel tax by $0.02/gallon. Why not take it to the point where the new floor on gas at the pump is $2.00 a gallon.

    Actual prices floating below the $2/gallon cost to the consumer goes into the roads and transit kitty for the next few years. Actual price to the $2/gallon mark are a floating tax for a few years or until market prices go over the $2 benchmark.

    If a paltry $.02/gallon will raise millions in a year per the Gov’s speech, then let’s get some cash piled up while oil is realtively cheap.

    The construction market is in the tank, materials like asphalt are much cheaper as well as other construction materials. Add to that the $45 million in interst payments on bonds Idaho is paying and we could retire those bonds.

    People did not slow down a bit when it was $2 bucks a gallon and we would have the money to fix crappy and dangerous road. The tax spred would provide the money for some serious mass transit when oil prices rise.

    We have the opportunity to plan for the future that would be a funcional transit system that would make the auto a optional item for a lot of folks. Or perhaps they could get it down to just one car per family as possible option.

  21. bikeboy- it took SLC, UTA, and UDOT approximately 9 years before they got the first TRAX line running…a major catalyst of funding the development for the transit line was the Winter Olympics. People railed (pun intended?) against the idea of a train going through their neighborhoods, residents of Sandy and Murray wanted large walls put up, UTA did such…then they realized it wasn’t a visual or noise nuisance, and wanted the walls down!

    Now that the line has been in place for 8 years, ridership has been consistently high and very much a favorite of SL valley residents. So much, that there are plans for development throughout the much larger (than Treasure valley) SL valley…including current progress to connect downtown SLC with the airport. The commuter line is up and running, from Ogden to SLC on UP rail lines, and is doing quite well. The transit system doesn’t generate additional cash flow, but the ridership pays for a large portion of the infrastructure that was needed. For such a conservative area, there are some forward thinking politicians and planners in the SL valley. Even though I don’t come from there originally, I feel a certain pride in gaining my education there and being involved with some of the planning (through Envision Utah)and maintained growth that the SL valley will continue to see over the next few decades (Kennecott has alot of land to develop!).

    Part of my grad thesis, MS Urban Planning, at the U of Utah was regarding transportation…and the SL model was studied very indepth (as well as other great models from around the world).

    Boise is too small, at the moment, for a rail-based system. I’m glad the Guardian finally saw a light with a bus system (AMBUS). BRT is a great solution, with little relative cost in infrastructure and much more flexibility in route changes. Nothing ever works perfectly when it is first started. Changes should be made as the valley grows.

  22. Maybe the Guardian is right — we shouldn’t build a rail system until we’re big enough to really need it.
    That way, instead of doing it now while there is at least some rather bare space between the valley’s cities, we could wait until the whole valley is solid subdivisions and shopping centers. Then we’d get to tear down lots of buildings and stuff to create a path. Creates jobs for the wrecking crews, etc.
    By the same logic, of course, we shouldn’t have brought in electricity until we ran out of kerosene for our lamps and wood for our stoves.
    There’s a word I really dislike, because it’s so phony sounding and overused, but in this case perhaps it’s appropriate: It’s “proactive” to do something before you need it instead of just reacting after the need becomes intense.
    If you’re gonna get into an old-West gunfight, load your iron before you walk out into the street at high noon.
    Er whatever.

  23. I find it amazing that intelligent, well educated people would still dare to share just the information and facts that support their pre-existing views.
    Texn is correct with all the data. Unfortunately, the part he fails to share is that one of the major conditions of hosting the Olympics was a substantial increase, and up grade, to the surface transportation system. (For those of you from Eagle, that means roads)
    There is also a failure to share the fact that the traffic in SLC still sucks! Also less than 8% of the population regularly uses the rail system. But that didn’t support Texn’s position so it was ignored. It seems that a “substantial portion of the costs are born by ridership” means that 55% of operating costs are all that is important. Never mind that 45% of the costs are still being paid for by the taxpayer. I suppose that the master’s thesis failed to consider that the Salt Lake Valley is a natural, narrow corridor. Being 12-15 miles wide and 125 miles long naturally lends itself to public transportation. Never mind that our leaders here at home have allowed 360 degree “sprawl” that cemented failure for mass transportation years ago! So, once and for all, let’s cease comparing Boise with Portland or Salt Lake City. The ONLY thing we have in common with them is we all three speak English!!!

  24. Cyclops, it was ignored but not for a lack of support. Nor did I tell all I studied, as I didn’t feel it relevant to this discussion. As well as not wanting to write out an additional dissertation. Especially in this small comment box.

    Yes, several roads (minor, major, highway, interstate) were upgraded. Even the seemingly eternal I-15 construction through Ogden finally ended this past fall!
    SLC is a much more dense city than Boise, and people do tend to walk, bike, and even ride the bus system there (don’t have the ridership percentage for that). But what really matters is that these areas offer a wide array of transportation choices…and that many less vehicles on the road. The rail system is still growing, TRAX does not capture a large percentage daily trips…ridership will increase as the infrastructure grows. It takes time, of course with the new administration, maybe all of those UDOT/UTA projects will be constructed overnight.

    I truly wish they would take the time to get the lights timed, the biggest downfall of having a train system.

    The Treasure and SL Valley are quite a bit different, however the current state of the built environment is similiar…it follows the tracks and is a rather narrow corridor.

    Cyclops, I apologize for not adding the data I had written about several years ago to also support your POV.

  25. Tom Anderson
    Jan 21, 2009, 11:43 am

    Here’s an idea for a complete Treasure Valley public transit system that could instantly free up congestion, reduce pollution, get everyone to their destination quickly, and cost nothing.

    Encourage hitchhiking. People buy ‘hitchhiking tokens’ and give one to whoever picks you up. These tokens could then be spent for gasoline or redeemed for cash by those with electric vehicles.

    The hitchhiker would carry a dry-erase board that they would write their destination on, then just stand next to the road.

    Presto, problem solved without huge infrastructure costs!

  26. Pay people to ride bikes. It is way cheaper.

  27. Guardian, let me be the first to say that buses suck. I used to ride them every day…not by choice mind you, but because I could not afford an automobile.

    Living life on a fifteen minute till the bus gets here so I can sit next to a stinky homeless guy is a tough adjustment. Next try getting laid without a car.

  28. gman12 your first reason is silly. The second one makes perfect sense!!

  29. Cyclops said: “I find it amazing that intelligent, well educated people would still dare to share just the information and facts that support their pre-existing views.”
    Why do you find that amazing? Isn’t that what a blog is for — I tell you my thoughts, you tell me yours, other people can chime in and offer different opinions and ideas, and, who knows, among all of us, we might even come up with something really good and useful that others of us could agree with. Pretty much like sitting around in a coffee shop or in a friend’s home (except Guardian ain’t buying the coffee or handing us any beers). Sharing ideas, opinions, prejudices, whatever you want to call them, is an important part of democracy. You want only one side, let King George and Rush Limburgercheese resume their rule. Meanwhile, the rest of us can keep on arguing, discussing, learning from one another, and having some fun in the process.

  30. Tom Anderson
    Jan 31, 2009, 1:15 am

    We’ve all been living in this fantastically wealthy country for so long our brains have been pickled to the point of being useless.

    The Problem is that people choose to live a long ways from where they work.

    The answer is to help them to choose to live very close to where they work and to help facilitate the transition, …NOT to create a boondoggle that tries to make massively expensive and complex ‘solutions’ that don’t really ‘solve’ anything.

    Since people only respond to price signals, it has got to be very expensive to commute to work, or, for that matter, spend the whole day driving around in a car for no important reason.

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