Thursday, February 12, 2009

Transit ridership takes another huge leap

While the Idaho legislature continues to waste their time recording useless sound bites about wolves in Idaho, and proposing a gutting of our education system, they continue to ignore the issue of public transportation.

For the last few years the topic of public transportation has gotten a hearing before being shot down. This year, no hearing at all. Apparently, the legislators didn't get the memo that a poor economy is a time when people are more likely to need public transportation - to get to school, to go get a job, to get food. Last year public transportation made sense due to our worsening air quality and traffic congestion. Now it make sense as a foundation to get our economy back on track. It has always made sense to decrease the need for new roads, which are crumbling around us. In other words, it just makes sense. They may blame the economy, even though it will take years before any real tax dollars are spent. The bottom line is that our rural dominated legislature is doing everything in its power to collapse the state of Idaho back into a rural plot where we can have the lowest educational standards in the country, the lowest day care standards in the country, the lowest investment in our future generations.

All the while our minimally funded public transportation system, with no dedicated funding source, has been getting the job done. In the last quarter of the year (first quarter for Valley Regional Transit), the system carried 363,729 passengers. This is up 27.9% from a year earlier! This includes a 26.1% increase in Boise and Garden City, a 33.7% increase in Nampa and Caldwell, and a whopping 39.8% increase between Ada and Canyon county.

On a personal note, my bus rides have dropped off dramatically. When working at HP, I rode the bus 3-4 days per week. Now that I have left to go to school, I simply ride my bike (only 1.5 miles).

Disclaimer: I am not an employee of Valley Regional Transit, but I am the volunteer chairman of the Regional Coordination Council for VRT.

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1 comment:

John B. said...

I think that smaller cities could do a lot of good by investing more in public transit - either bus or rail. It is certainly a better investment than widening roads again and again. That made it frustrating to watch the stimulus negotiations at work. I think the transit grants ended up being eliminated, though high-speed rail stayed.