Transit Center Design Flaw Prompts Bus Modifications

The GUARDIAN has confirmed that a ValleyRide bus scraped the road surface at the new underground transit center during a test run due to a construction design flaw.
bus ramp
Sources tell us the ramp leading up to Main is so steep that buses cannot crest the top without scraping the undercarriage. To be clear, we have been unable to learn if the front, center, or rear of the bus is dragging. There is indeed an issue either at the top or bottom of the ramp which created the need for modifications of the vehicles.

No word on how much modifications costs per bus, but we were told the “skid pans” which protect the bottom of the buses have been altered so the buses can clear the new facility. The design flaw prompted alteration of the skid pans on multiple buses which were unable to clear the exit. Apparently one model of buses in service is OK.

At a recent meeting of ValleyRide board members, it was also disclosed that with only eight stalls available underground, some buses will have to remain staged on Main Street.
bus line
The “basement bus station” is designed to have buses drive south on Capital Blvd. against traffic from Main to an entrance beneath the new ballroom next to the Grove Hotel. The exit which caused the clearance issue is on Main and the tight squeeze there is expected by some to be risky to pedestrians, bicycles, and cars due to the steep incline and inherent vision challenges.

ValleyRide spokesman Mark Carnopis told the GUARDIAN the modifications will not hinder the safety of the buses. He challenged the “design flaw” characterization, explaining the construction specs were based on only one model of bus and skid pan modifications are being made in house.

UPDATE 3/12/16–Statesman’s Sven Berg followed up and REVEALS a mere 21 buses have to be altered. Seems that no one at the bus agency was aware of the skip pans and the person who would have known is gone.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. chicago sam
    Mar 9, 2016, 3:00 pm

    Any farmer knows that before you build the barn you count the horses

  2. Design flaw or did Valley Ride only submit tolerances for the one model of bus? Also does the ramp construction match the original design? Big questions that should of been answered prior to publishing.

    EDITOR NOTE–Good questions. The results are the same–the buses have to be altered to use the new basement bus station. We don’t assign blame, just reveal the flaw.

  3. And we paid the engineering firm how much?

  4. So, you state that some buses are okay, and should pass through this “error” unharmed. Is there any possibility that the engineers who designed this passageway made it specifically for this type of bus? Maybe there could have been word handed down to the engineer from the client that the design would be needed for a particular type of bus? Such as newer ones, with say a modified exhaust system that doesn’t contaminate the enclosed air filtration systems with harmful toxins as the older models would? Or maybe this is some big mistake, and someone should be fired… either way, who was your “source”?

    EDITOR NOTE–First off, we don’t reveal sources. Just like we will not reveal where you work or your real name. Secondly, we confirmed there are buses being modified due to the issue, error, flaw, situation, or other descriptor. The 8 bus capacity was revealed during a public meeting.

  5. Only 8 stalls! I wondered how many buses would fit in the dungeon. How is it a transit center when some buses will still have to utilize the street? How much Federal money was funneled into this “almost a” transit center? I always thought this was a bad idea and this report confirms it.

  6. chicago sam
    Mar 10, 2016, 8:38 am

    In a recent presentation to Nampa City Council from Valleyride in a response to a question the presenter admitted that ridership in Canyon County had been trending down for the last several years. And then today in the Press-Tribune legal section they are accepting bids for 5 new “19 passenger cutaway buses”. These buses would probably be nimble enough to get over the hump in Boise and more than adequate for Canyon County where a smart car would cover ridership a large portion of the time.

  7. You fail to see the big picture here.
    They need new buses! And better yet a trolley!
    Why? Because the old buses do not fit. Way to go mayor.

  8. Who cares about the buses? Will the TROLLEY be able to safely ingress and egress? (nudge-nudge, wink-wink…)

  9. Is this all related to the issue many years ago of narrowing lanes downtown? I remember that the city reached some kind of compromise with the feds on narrowing the lanes to accommodate the buses that lined up on Main. But as I remember it was a temporary thing. Will the fact that they will still have to do it cause problems? I am still not be wild about the basement thing.

  10. “The 8 bus capacity was revealed during a public meeting.”

    I reported this years ago, and the fact that buses will still have to be staged on Main. And if bus routes are added, that means staging on Idaho again. We’ve gained nothing. I’m normally pro development but we gave away public right away and really got nothing in return.

    Did you see where Alive After Five might even be in danger of failing?

    I predict a new bus terminal will have to be found and the underground so-called “Transit Center” will revert to public car parking. Within 5 years. Maybe 10 tops.

  11. usually new transit centers are deigned with the future in mind and have capacity for some growth of the system. It is a major lost opportunity for a transit center not yet open, to not even accommodate the current demand and require some routes to stage on the street.

    I respect Gardner’s ambition to solve community problems, they filled the hole, they found a home for the transit center when other sites turned VRT down, but the transit seems reversed engineered for the site, not the site being chosen for the transit system needs.

  12. Way to go ValleyRide!

    Maybe get rid of the GIANT BUSES!

    The photos show how a bus front end drops when they stop to lower the step onto the bus…. that’s some serious money just to accommodate 1 little old lady.

  13. Jan Strough
    Mar 10, 2016, 8:58 pm

    I am mad at myself for missing the public comment period.
    1. I would seek discourse from the bus drivers. Do you think the bus drivers would be looking forward to a 90 degree turn to enter the ramp? Where is the apron?
    2. Degree of incline, based on what I can see in the picture: open air ramp, steep – winter – ice – having to stop at the top of the ramp to wait for traffic, will tires spin out? If so, would the bus slide backwards downthe ramp?
    3. Only room for eight buses. Excavation in the construction arena is very costly and cost prohibitive without income expected to reimburse costs. Appears a huge waste of money.
    4. Whenever I see a bus it looks 95% empty. My guess, without the facts, is that our current bus transit system is a huge deficit. I always wonder why we don’t have vans instead of big old buses. Our traffic is currently over capacity for the current roadways and buses are not helping the flow of traffic. without the facts, I say, sell the buses.
    5. Why do buses have to be stored right off of Main Street? Couldn’t 8 buses be parked at Expo Idaho for free? Once again, I don’t have knowledge of the semantics of bus lines. I am just speaking from common sense and on the outside looking in.
    6. Thank you Guardian for allowing rants and raves. I appreciate your article on the construction design flaw.

    EDITOR NOTE– Jan, ref your #5 the “staged buses” will be in service awaiting passengers or an empty stall. They won’t be “stored.” The facility at Gowen field is plenty big for parking the off duty buses.

  14. Ever Been Anywhere
    Mar 10, 2016, 10:29 pm

    I have never seen an arrangement like this for bus structures. Perhaps I haven’t been in international, dense, high transit areas, but I’m sure they don’t make this type of mistake in those places.

    Anywhere else, the people at large would demand better leadership, decision making, and use of resources. Anywhere else that would have been built into the decision making process.

    Not literally anywhere, but anywhere where progress is important and competence is more important.

  15. Foothills Rider
    Mar 11, 2016, 10:15 am

    What is the slope angle in degrees (see link to calc)? Is a flat landing required, similar to handicap ramps, as that is completely missing…the buses won’t achieve level until well out of the tunnel slope. I foresee visibility problems at the top of a steep slope, when the bus is still angled upward…potential for pedestiran and vehicular conflict…lawsuits to come. Maybe this was intended as a funicular all along, to statisfy that trolley urge.

  16. Yossarian_22
    Mar 11, 2016, 6:20 pm

    I remember reviewing all of the various places that Boise/VRT were looking at several years ago. They couldn’t decide on where it was going to be. Each site was going to be a ground level site. Each one looked like a major improvement to the current diamond lane setup they are using now. The public was asked to weigh in. Then, poof…this new site emerged under the US Bank building. Very elaborate and much more expensive than the previous sites, by far. The entry/egress positions are much more harrowing too. I think we could have gone with simpler and cheaper and it would have been fine.

    Now, with all that said, I am much more upset with the hanger queen money pit F-35 than I am this transit site.

  17. The two big humps on the top of the buses are compressed gas fuel bottles. Ya have got to be pure genius to allow that much compressed flammable gas into an enclosed underground space.

    I think these are the same model of bus that was having problems with catching on fire?

  18. So this was a mole hill? Just read the IDS story. VRT mechanics are removing the aftermarket skidplates so beyond their regular hours of labor (we all have random projects like this come up at work lol) it shouldn’t be a big deal. Perhaps the biggest cost was installing these plates in the first place. Who knows what info or motivations they had at that time to make them alter the buses in this way but who cares? It doesn’t seem like a big deal once you get more of the story…

  19. Where's the Beef?
    Apr 3, 2016, 7:07 am

    I bet the skid plate is intended to protect something really important… like a propane line.

  20. Falsely Accused
    Apr 29, 2016, 8:33 pm

    I was informed by my employer, that you had told them that I was the source for your article. I have never talked to you or contacted you, until today. I have never even read your blog, until today. I would like to meet with you to find out how you acquired my name. Please email me to set up a meeting to discuss this issue.

    Thank you,

    Falsely Accused

    EDITOR NOTE–You are indeed falsely accused. We never mentioned any names other than the official spokesman at Valley Ride. If you are having ANY issues from your employer, please let me know and we will work to provide you with legal counsel. We will declare here and in a court of law that I do not know you, whomever you are and even I, the editor, don’t know the source of the totally accurate information which we posted. Again, no names that I can see in the post.

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