What do local legislators think about funding for public transportation? It seems the general feeling is it’s on the back burner for now in favor of other issues.
Rep. Gayle Batt: “My first priority is finding a reliable funding source for our traditional modes of transportation. I think that’s going to be the hot topic of the Legislature this year, so definitely that’s priority over public transportation. … Not that there’s not value that could be recognized, I don’t want to dismiss it completely. But I think we’ve been looking for a solution to this funding for our transportation needs for a while now, and we’re going to have to figure that one out this year.”
Rep. Gary Collins: “(Road improvements are) definitely something that will happen before we start looking at anything like light rail. Maybe improving the bus system would be something we’d look at, I know that’s been talked about before. The commuter ride van and buses are full now, and we could make it a little more accommodating. I assume this hub that’s being built in Boise will have something to do with that, too. Right now, you’ve got to work in certain locales if you’re going to ride the bus or use one of the commuter vans. I think that’s part of the mix that we need to look at, too.”
Rep. Rick Youngblood: “We have lots of public transportation today in the Valley. You’ve got Valley Ride, Treasure Valley Transit, you’ve got a ton of entities. … It’s important particularly for our rural communities and senior adults. Does it need funding? Yes. How we get there, that’s up for further discussions. From my perspective, the need would be more for rural communities.”
Rep. Brent Crane: “We have to make sure we maintain our current public transit system. I don’t know where you’d get the money for light rail or if you could get Idahoans to buy into it. … We are very self-reliant people, and Idahoans like to have their own vehicle and drive to work so they can get off work and go where they want to go. So to that end, I think there would have to be somewhat of a cultural shift in Idaho. There’s going to have to be buy in. … I think the need would have to be demonstrated and you’d have to figure out how to pay for it. ”
Sen. Jim Rice: “We have other priorities right now. I think the top priority is the dollars for our roads and bridges, and that’s my highest priority for this session. I’m not even thinking about public transportation right now. … We do have some public transportation, and eventually I think you’ll see more movement on it, but I think it’s something that’s going to be more local driven rather than legislative driven.”
Rep. Greg Chaney: “We have other priorities we need to take care of. I think the priority right now actually is away from Boise, and we really need to figure out how we’re going to fund Canyon County improvements such as Highway 55, and how we’re going to make sure we’re keeping our infrastructure throughout the state up. We also have some bridges that need help. I really appreciate Valley Ride in Boise and the fact that they’ve been able to expand in Canyon County. I think that’s really key to student populations and to low-income families that need that option. As we continue to grow, it will become more and more important.”
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge: “Right now what I’m hearing from folks is the roads and bridges, trying to make sure the roads are good. I’d like to see more people using (public transit). Many times there’s no one on public transportation, but I’ve also noticed more people waiting at the bus stop on Cleveland Boulevard, so I see that maybe it’s being used more. ... I haven’t heard any comments on public transportation, but the roads I have.”