Transit Center Derailed Before First Spade Of Dirt Is Turned

Valley Regional Transit has joined the ranks of Team Dave when it comes to getting the proverbial cart before the horse.

VRT is sending out press releases saying the agency is moving forward on a downtown “Multi-Modal Transit Center” and solicits a private partner on the project. All this despite the owner of the land–Idaho Endowment Board–telling them the proposed project is NOT approved on the land.

The VRT folks were sent a letter May 1 from Idaho State Lands Dept. informing the local agency, “Idaho Dept. of Lands (IDL) will not be accepting the Application for Use of State Lands submitted by Valley Regional Transit for the endowment-owned parking lot at 8th and Jefferson Streets in downtown Boise.”

Director Thomas Shultz, Jr. told VRT’s Kelli Fairless that “IDL has heard from numerous members of the Boise business community and Idaho’s legislative and executive branches.” Shultz went on to say in the May 1 letter the feedback regarding a transit center across from the Capitol Building claimed the use would negatively swell traffic congestion, diminish safety, and harm the historic character of the block.

The GUARDIAN posted a TROLLEY STORY Monday citing the Idaho Constitution mandate that any trolley or street car using streets or highways had to be approved by the Ada County Highway District.

So, Boise City has failed to get approval from ACHD to use the streets and Valley Regional Transit has made building plans, but has no permission to use the land. Not only has the trolley been derailed before it leaves the station, the station hasn’t gotten permission to build.

The GUARDIAN called the number on the press release, but a recording said the Public Relations guy would be out of the office until December 26! Either a long leave of absence or not many media calls for VRT.

UPDATE 5/6/13

The VRT Executive Board met in executive session Monday. No action or vote was taken during the executive session. Here is their statement:

“The VRT Executive board supports the project and believes that if the Land Board can see the benefits, they would agree with the value of such a project, including creating jobs during construction, adding parking, and making it easier and more convenient to use the ValleyRide bus system.”

Also, the PR guy updated his voice mail.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. surely VRT was not surprised by this?!

  2. Endowment lands must be managed to generate the highest return, per the Constitution. Beyond that, I am uncertain why the Land Board would really care at all about the proposed land use. My suspicion is that Boise does not want to have to pay true market rent for the land, and the Land Board probably does not care about what goes on it, as long as it generates maximum return for the endowment.

  3. Why is everyone against public transit in Boise?

    EDITOR NOTE–I don’t know they are against transit. They are against TRAINS AND TROLLEYS. A good bus system would go a long way toward improving things. Trains and trolleys are expensive and serve only a few riders in the overall picture and you still need buses at either end.

  4. I feel like I’m very supportive of the concept of “mass transit,” and hope the bus system improves and expands. But I’m certainly not convinced that Boise needs a transit center at this point. How’s about sinking that same $12 million into the bus system and increase ridership, and then build a transit palace once volume demands it?!!

    Supporters should look to Spokane. They have a “transit center” that is apparently mostly serving as a place for the community’s homeless to hang out.

  5. Just realized location of this proposal. Small parking lot next to Hoff Building’s north side. Ludicrous. Not big enough for a McDonalds. Dumb. Wow these people cannot get a decent location or idea to save their own lives!

  6. Not only d-u-m-b, but it’s an exceedingly ugly building design.

  7. The Speckled Hen
    May 4, 2013, 12:43 pm

    I love how the rendering only shows white collar white men in the foreground. That clearly doesn’t reflect the character of that block.

  8. Interesting how VRT has spent money on a project on a site that they don’t control.

    Imagine what they could do if they really knew what they were doing!

  9. Boy Hen when your right your right. About a block NE of there are some of the worst criminals in Idaho. Only 2 places worse as far as I know… the area on the opposite side of the connector from the mall…. and the area close to emerald and n mitchell

  10. VRT is in charge of our buses (Valley Ride).
    So VRT is pushing this building concept…Proving they are hosed! Any wonder our bus system is hosed?

    I have talked to a couple bus drivers and they say Farris is the #1 problem. And once again the people that know the problem are in a good position to bring the problems to the surface- because either they will lose their union job with “stop the bus for a union 15 minute rest” or the route might actually become used and then they have to deal with customers instead of a quite empty bus.

    And when a director serves a Board of 24 members- it’s impossible for 24 members to get any ‘management’ done. Farris has been there long enough to prove this is her ability to direct a bus system. It’s time to let someone else tackle it.

    For example the “Advertise on a Bus Program” is managed by an ad agency in Reno. That’s nice- more quasi-govt money going out of state. $1400 a month to advertise on a bus- and how much of that goes back to VRT?

    Does anyone think the bus system is being well managed?

  11. “MUlti Modal Transit Center” political correctness and bs for “greyhound bus depot” next to the capital bldg and one of neatest areas of down town. Yup, can’t imagine why there would be any opposition!

  12. I echo the sentiments posted above regarding Ms. Fairless’ (in)ability to manage this important facet of Treasure Valley living. For YEARS she’s thrown good money away to fund study after study that has done nothing to improve local transportation services. Meanwhile routes are getting cut, and I still can’t catch a bus after dinner or a happy hour cocktail (or 2), since the stinking bus system shuts down at 6:45.

  13. apparently VRT does not agree the press release was a flap, their homepage still has the announcement that VRT is moving forward with the site.

  14. Interesting how now the State cares about the historical character of the area…. but when it comes to building 6 story parking garages they don’t care a lick about the historical quality of an area… even if all other authorizing bodies say it is a no go.

    This state…. smh

  15. Ask Kelli to define what is fare box recovery, what is VRT’s fare box recovery and what is the national average. That may be the real story. Post those results and let’s discuss.

    EDITOR NOTE–We did confirm the COST of each rider is about $5 more than they PAY.

  16. Is the $5 loss per rider a result of very low capacity utilization? Or do they always plan to run at a loss and be subsidized by taxpayers?

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