BOISE — In 1994, state legislators passed a law giving residents the opportunity to vote on the formation of public transportation authorities. Ada and Canyon county voters approved the authority in November 1998.
In December 1998, a Regional Public Transportation Board of Directors was formed in the Treasure Valley. The regional public transportation authority was named Valley InterArea Transportation. In June 2002, the VIATrans Board voted to change the agency name to ValleyRide.
ValleyRide continued to evolve and move forward. In November 2004, its board of directors approved changing the name of the RPTA from ValleyRide to Valley Regional Transit. The ValleyRide name was retained to designate the different transit services (such as ValleyRide Boise Transit Services for the Boise bus service and ValleyRide Express Transit Services for intercounty operations).
ValleyRide now operates 17 bus routes in Boise on weekdays, eight routes on Saturday, four routes in Nampa/Caldwell (Monday through Friday), five intercounty routes between Ada County and Canyon County (Monday through Friday), and one flex route in Nampa and Caldwell.
The Valley Regional Transit Board of Directors consists of 28 appointed representatives from incorporated cities, counties and highway districts in Ada and Canyon counties plus one representative each from Capital City Development Corporation, Boise State University, Idaho Transportation Department and the Meridian Development Corporation.
Valley Regional Transit is involved in planning public transportation services for the Treasure Valley and oversees the contract with Professional Transit Management, Inc. to manage and operate the bus system in Boise. In July 2002, all assets of Boise system were transferred to Valley Regional Transit, and it became the grantee and recipient of available federal funding.
VRT also operated the bus line in Garden City, and, in 2003, entered into service agreements with Treasure Valley Transit and Commuters Bus. Both services operate between Canyon County and Ada County. Those agreements expired March 1, 2005. On that date, First Transit of Cincinnati, Ohio, began providing service in Nampa, Caldwell and between the two counties. MV Transport manages the Nampa/Caldwell and intercounty services.
Comprehensive short- and long-term public transportation planning for the two-county region was completed in 2004. This planning project has two elements:
- A short-term route restructuring plan that is designed to improve transit services using existing financial and equipment resources. Improvements to the fixed-line bus systems in Caldwell and Nampa, along with the intercounty service, were implemented in March 2005. Planned changes to the fixed-line services in Boise and Garden City were implemented on Oct. 1, 2005.
- A six-year, long-term plan (Treasure Valley in Transit) that provides for a regional public transportation system. It is a comprehensive plan for public transportation to grow with the Treasure Valley. The plans calls for a transit system that provides new routes in communities throughout the Valley, longer hours of service and more frequent service. The plan also includes express commuter service.
In August 2011, the VRT board approved valleyconnect, an updated mobility development plan that provides a blueprint for the growth of alternative forms of transportation in Ada and Canyon counties.
When voters approved the formation of a regional public transportation authority, the new Idaho Code did not provide a funding source to pay for services. A coalition of local elected officials, business leaders, stakeholders and state legislators concluded in 2006 that building the Treasure Valley in Transit Plan would require a dedicated local funding source.
Attempts in 2007 and 2008 to obtain the legislative authority to ask voters to approve a local option sales tax to fund transportation projects were unsuccessful. In 2009, proposed legislation that would give cities and counties the ability to ask voters to approve a local option sales tax went nowhere.
Valley Regional Transit, with the help of transit supporters statewide, continues to determine the next steps to take. In the meantime, VRT is developing mobility programs under the GoRide name. These services include Canyon County Vanpool, Job Access, Vehicle Sharing, Village Van, Volunteer Driver and Community Link.
—Source: Valley Regional Transit