Poll Supports GUARDIAN Transit Plan

According to a poll commissioned by the Daily Paper, 63% of folks in the city of trees agree with the GUARDIAN position that we should upgrade the bus system and forget about the “Desire NAmed Street Car.”
OK, they didn’t exactly say they supported the GUARDIAN position, but we have indeed advocated bus improvements over a trolley–even going so far as to compute you could buy 240 buses at $250,000 each for the $60,000,000 cost of a trolley that goes around in circles downtown.
The poll did show 63% of those polled oppose the idea of Mayor Dave Bieter to spend $40 million in fed money along with $20 million in local funds to build a trolley route that is about as valuable as stock in the BSU football team.

Instead of manning up, agreeing the trolley (“street car” to purists) is a bad idea, and moving on with the business of running the city, Team Dave told the STATESMAN they had “more work” ahead of them to convince people the street car is a good idea.

This is the second poll commissioned by the Statesman because some criticized a previous poll which reached the same results. No doubt, taxpayers will have to pay for a poll by the city and its $90,000 PR firm that will show the trolley is a good idea. One downtown developer blamed the media for NOT slanting the news in favor of the trolley.

Rather than a one issue campaign for mayor, we see this as a microcosm of how Team Dave operates:

–They don’t like to allow the public to have a voice (an election) in how funds are spent–despite what the constitution requires.

–They rely on public relations campaigns and try to manipulate the public perceptions of what they do or fail to do.

–They appoint blue ribbon committees to carry their water.

–They rely on “studies” that are predestined to agree with a conclusion.

We had said it before. Dave Bieter is a pretty decent guy. He hasn’t stolen office furniture, we don’t know of him cheating on expense accounts, he doesn’t diddle the city with car allowances, and–if memory serves–he hasn’t even taken a raise.

That said, we see an obsession with a street car and train as well as a focus on Downtown at the expense of the rest of the city that has sprawled all over the valley.

A simple mia culpa with a face saving, “The time just isn’t right,” and the guy can remain in office for another term with no sweat. If he keeps pushing a bad idea, we are liable to get a new unknown mayor.

It appears Mayor Bieter and his lot
Will have a trolley whether we like it or not
I was under the illusion
It was not a foregone conclusion
Oh! The things this deception has wrought!

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. When is the Guardian going to man-up and acknowledge that there is no $60 million available to buy 240 buses. Even if you could find the $60 million to buy the buses, where will you find the annual operating funds to pay the drivers of those 240 buses as well as the fuel and maintenance costs for the buses.

    The $40 million stimulus grant the city is seeking is only available for capital costs of rail systems. This was mentioned in the same Statesman article to which you referred, but you curiously failed to mention that little fact. The $20 million to be raised from the proposed Local Improvement District can only be spent within the boundaries of the LID.

    Where do you propose raising the $60 million to buy the 240 busses. I would consider supporting your efforts to fund a comprehensive public transportation system if you can present a carefully crafted plan. You will find it takes a lot more effort to create a viable plan than to sit back and take pot shots at someone else’s plan.

    EDITOR NOTE–We have never claimed anything other than the simple FACT that you can buy 240 quarter million dollar buses for $60 million. Team Dave talks of “billions” in development, but has never said where that money will come from–perhaps local banks like the ones who won’t loan for a convention center hotel, (hole-in-the-ground) tower, Tamarack ski resort, etc. “Show me the money” and perhaps we won’t be so skeptical. Also Bieter doesn’t tell us that NOTHING in taxes on the phantom developments will go to the city for police, fire, parks, etc.–it will all go to CCDC.

  2. Mayor Bieter is probably thinking about the money spent on the Portland, Oregon light rail system that was a catalyst for $3.5 billion in development in Portland. Or that is the general thinking. They have all the stars aligned in Portland for such growth and we do not. It is just a matter of time before Micron goes away along with all the other techie stuff and we get back to our roots, Agriculture, mining and minerals.

    Canyon County Commissioners want to pillage more dirt with a 35 square mile “Enterprise Zone”. We haven’t pillaged enough dirt in this valley already. This makes even less sense than the trolly folly in Boise.

    We have marketed this valley as the land of cheap dirt, cheap housing and cheap labor. Enough is enough. Growth for the sake of growth just has to go away.

  3. I was raised to recognize positions other than my own. I was taught to respect others until they lost it, and when a woman said no, she meant no! The mayor, city council, Jade Reilly, Zuzel, and Park have long since lost any respect. Their arrogance is un-heralded in this city’s history. I cannot accept their position because they are just plain wrong on the issue, and they also need to learn that NO means NO!

  4. Dr Spiegelvogel
    Nov 22, 2009, 11:00 pm

    Mr Guardian,

    Have you calculated the operating costs in running a gaggle of buses vs a hub and spoke rail system?

    And don’t forget the cost to reduce further pollutant emissions.

    The 240 buses canard brings you pride?

    IMHO: Neither street cars or buses are happening in our valley any time soon.

  5. It seems to me that the mayor and his mouth-pieces are caught up in the stimulus mania sweeping D.C. and the nation, as are other politicians. It’s OK to say no to federal dollars that increase our taxes without substantial benefits to the majority. This is similar to a U.S. Senator who at the last hour backed healthcare reform legislation that includes $100 million to help her state cover Medicaid costs. In her comments after the Senate vote, she said $3.3 million had been spent in her state on advertising either for or against national healthcare reform. The legislation as now written would cost $957 billion over the next 10 years, adding substantially to the trillions of dollars the nation is already in debt. What comes after trillion? What comes after $60 million in Boise for a 2.3-mile trolley? De-rail this plan and move on, Boise.

  6. JustFacts: We don’t know the operating costs of the proposed trolley or who pays for it when the 60M capital is used up. Nor do we know the likely (or reasonable guess of) monetary benefits of another tourist attraction to downtown.

    Maybe, just maybe, Downtown is not the center of the universe? It’s been revitalized a couple of times. It’s doing OK now. Can it stand on it’s own without further “stimulus”?

  7. Hey Just Facts, how about getting your facts straight before you start criticizing others. The City submitted a TIGER grant application for the downtown streetcar project.

    According to one of the US DOT TIGER websites ( “Projects eligible for funding provided under this program include, but are not limited to, highway or bridge projects, public transportation projects, passenger and freight rail transportation projects, and port infrastructure investments.”

    Where in the world did you come up with “The $40 million stimulus grant the city is seeking is only available for capital costs of rail systems”? The TIGER program isn’t just for rail systems. Check out

    Heck, even the Port of Lewiston could apply for a TIGER grant.

  8. 4523A: It was kind of you to provide a link to the TIGER website. Too bad you didn’t carefully read the information on the site. Quoting only the part that supports your position is inadequate. Having prepared grant applications in the past, I learned to read requirements from the beginning to the end. Kind of like reading instructions completely before trying to put something together. Here is the part you left out:
    TIGER Discretionary Grants (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery)
    Under a new Recovery Act program, up to $1.5 billion was made available through September 30, 2011, for the Secretary of Transportation to make grants on a competitive basis for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure projects that will have a significant impact on the Nation, a metropolitan area, or a region. Projects eligible for funding provided under this program include, but are not limited to, highway or bridge projects, public transportation projects, passenger and freight rail transportation projects, and port infrastructure investments.

    The Department considered public comments on this program and published a revised notice of funding availability in the Federal Register on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. The revised notice announces funding availability, project selection criteria, application requirements, and the deadline for submitting applications, which is September 15, 2009.

    When a public entity submits a grant application for a specific project, and assuming their proposal is one of the ones selected, they can not use the funds for a different purpose. Sorry, but my facts are straight. My purpose is not to critize, merely to point out the limitations to the usage of the grant funds. Apppology accepted!

  9. I was disturbed to read Mayor Bieter’s spokesman saying that they “have a lot of work to do,” implying that public opinion was wrong and that they need to change it.

  10. Rod in SE Boise
    Nov 23, 2009, 8:34 pm

    I also was particularly disturbed to read Mayor Bieter’s spokesman saying that they “have a lot of work to do,” implying that public opinion was wrong and that they need to change it.

    And regardless of how much money a trolley system costs or 240 busses cost, neither is necessary or desirable.

  11. JF

    Apology? What apology? Certainly not from me.

    Actually I did CAREFULLY read the information on the site. I believe (unlike planners) in getting to the point. So I got to the point.

    Your point about what I “left out” is what? What part of what I “didn’t mention” doesn’t support my supposed position?

    I even noticed the part on the site about the Recovery Act maybe providing some tax relief. Not only do we Boise taxpayers (of which I am one) not get any tax relief because of the TIGER grant application but some of the local merchants may actually get to pay more taxes. Ironic, isn’t it? Wait, no, it’s not ironic. Those aren’t taxes, only an “assessment.”

    If what you were trying to say originally about the $ 40 million is that it could only be used for the streetcar project then I would agree with you. I wasn’t suggesting that the TIGER grant funds could be used for anything other than what they were earmarked for, only that TIGER grants could cover a multitude of potential projects. Your original phrasing, to me, seemed to suggest that TIGER funds could be used only for rail projects.

    Let’s see $ 20 million in local hard match, shouldn’t that normally be worth $ 100 million in federal grant money? Looks like Boise taxpayers are getting the short end of the stick (again).

    Instead of building a downtown streetcar maybe we could just use the estimated $ 1.2 million annual streetcar operating expense monies to fund improved bus service. Now there’s an idea.

  12. Let’s see our elected officials are supposed to represent us. I guess in Boise they get elected to use our tax money to tax us (or extract our money) and spend it on whatever they want to do. Sounds like Al Cappone – oops – he didn’t get elected.

    So it does not matter to them that 2/3 of the taxpayers don’t want the trolley…they really don’t represent us anyway. I guess they know that less than 20% of the taxpayers vote and they think (or know) that voters simply don;t care – because the tax payers don’t even care to vote…and they love it that way. Sad..very sad..on both parts.

  13. Does the Editor have ridership numbers available. I have yet to see a bus with more than a handfull of people on it. Maybe if it became super costly and ran on rails the numbers would improve?

  14. I can think of a dozen better uses for the matching funds Boise will have to spend to make the trolley a reality.

    However, regarding arguments from trolley opponents, I started thinking I had heard them before. It took a while then it dawned on me. The Broadway-Chinden Connector. “We can’t afford it!” “We don’t need it!” “The streets will be torn up!”

    Check out pics of the 1976 brochure in the 2nd and 3rd pics at the link below. Should I transcribe it? So you opponents can just cut and paste and not have to do your own writing?

    The info over at the following link is available at the downtown library.

  15. So let me get this straight Cynic. You want to equate an extension of a surface road with a streetcar that comes from nowhere, goes nowhere, Doesn’t take a single car off the street, and contributes to the carbon footprint of the valley? Really!!!!

  16. The other side of the Boise streetcar saga that the Mayor does not want people to know about is at:

    If the grant application is approved, the city council will vote the streetcar in REGARDLESS of what the Task Force says or what the citizens want. Bieter already has the votes. In my opinion, this is an abuse of power.

    In addition:

    This is the city that has a $9 million and growing deficit.

    This is the city that has already spent almost $200,000 on advertising and promoting the streetcar, and wants to spend another $90,000, but cannot come up with enough money to fix the Greenbelt.

    This is the city that got land donated for Williams Park but doesn’t have enough money to finish that project.

    This is the city which is having trouble paying for its employees health insurance and has had to cut city programs because of funding shortfalls.

    But, this is also the city which is telling us that if we do not get a streetcar, that Boise will practically fall off the edge of the earth.

    Too many things wrong with the picture.

  17. I have been somewhat agnostic on Mayor Beiter. This has turned me into a motivated opponent to his administration and his future in politics.

  18. The argument that the trolley will go nowhere is empty and utterly devoid of merit. It goes to every single place on its loop. Many cities have loops. Probably the most famous is the Capitol Beltway in suburban Wash DC. When they were building the beltway, the same arguments were heard. “The beltway goes nowhere,” the unenlightened cried.

    Wrong. The Capitol Beltway spurred billions of dollars in development, and to this day, the beltway still goes nowhere. That is if you consider Tyson’s Corner, Springfield, Landover and Greenbelt, nowheres.

    BTW, cyclops, you didn’t address the point I made. People opposed the Connector with all kinds of arguments. Yet, it has been a huge success. Try removing the Broadway/Chinden Connector. The outcry would make the trolley argument seem like a muffled wimper.

    I don’t know why I call myself cynic. I’m a breath of fresh air compared to some of you.

  19. Boise ain’t,and will never be D.C.!
    No Washington monument, no Lincoln memorial, No Congress, no Whitehouse. We have 17 bar/restaurants, some “boutique” shops, and about 11 attorney/ CPA offices. Not to mention 1/10th. of the population. How in the name of the good Lord above, can you equate the two? I guess the same way you equate the connector with a “choo-choo”. If you really think people will wait for 15-20 minutes until the next trolley comes by, instead of walking the 2-3 blocks to where they are headed, you should really share what you are smoking!

  20. And the downtown trolley is no Capitol Beltway. It’s all relative, cyclops. Did you fail at the maths or what?

    And you still refuse to directly address my point. A vocal minority feared the connector. Yet the connector is a success.

    Who said anything about waiting 15 to 20 minutes for a trolley? You’re really showing your ignorance in this thread. Besides, if you go back to my original comment you’ll see I’m not even in favor of the trolley. But those of you who misinform and outright lie are guilty of the same things you’re accusing the city government of doing.

  21. In my opinion the connector is a mess. Fairview and Main into Boise have turned into a blight – businesses have dried up – prefectly good roads have no traffic. Much of the property is owned by the city of Boise and consequently collect no taxes.

    I wouls like to follow the money and find out who is benefiting from making the property west of downtown Boise by the river useless and not paying property taxes. That property used to be active and dynamic.

  22. Maybe math isn’t my strong suit cynic. Although I have been blessed with a modicum of common sense. No doubt there were detractors to the connector as well as the green belt, and both are a success. What I fail to comprehend is how you can compare them. It is like saying Big Mike looks nice at the depot, so the trolley will be successful. Your logic escapes me! I don’t doubt the trolley would be “cute”, but a people mover? not hardly! 15-20 minute wait? Let me do the math I do understand. A trolley moves at @5 miles per hour over a 2 mile route. Given 9 stops at 5 minutes each, each trolley would take right at 1 hour to make a circuit. Given the projected 3 streetcars to run, that is 15 minutes to repeat the circuit at each stop. You know that neither of us would wait for that trolley more than once. That holds true for all the downtown workers that only have an hour at lunch, therefore negating the arguement that downtown workers would use it during the day. To hell with the 40 million, let’s just visit about the 20 million the city has to come up with. Do you know anyone, besides Clay Carley, that wants to pony up the one time expense to build it and then the 1-2 million / year to subsidize it? My most consistant problem with this mayor and city council, is that they seem to have no problem whatsoever spending our money! Whether it makes sense doesn’t seem to enter into the conversation.

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