Valley Regional Transit (VRT) released proposals for a redesigned bus network at its Executive Board of Directors meeting Monday. The proposed changes focus on creating a grid of more frequent local bus service and regional connections.
“This is the best path to creating a more useful bus system,” said VRT’s Chief Executive Officer, Elaine Clegg. “If we’re going to grow as a system, attract new bus riders, and better support existing bus riders, our first priority must be frequency. By focusing on the core of the system and reducing how long a passenger waits for a bus, we can create a better foundation to grow from.”
“The bus network of the future will depend on the funding provided by our partners in this region, and this may mean uncomfortable adjustments are necessary for now,” Clegg added. “However, we’re confident that these changes will move us toward a more reliable system for our community.”
VRT is proposing three scenarios for the public to review, each dependent on funding provided by local cities and municipalities:
Information on the proposed changes can be reviewed online at rideVRT.org/redesign, and feedback can be provided:
The proposed changes began taking shape in 2018 with VRT’s Valley Connect 2.0 plan, which outlined steps toward a better regional network with higher-frequency routes and updated bus stops. The plan highlighted the Treasure Valley’s need for four times the service and funding in order to meet regional demand and match service levels with peer agencies.
“Since ValleyConnect 2.0 was adopted, we have not wavered in our commitment to bringing more transit service to the valley,” said VRT Chief Development Officer, Stephen Hunt. “We remain committed to the service frequency and coverage in ValleyConnect 2.0, even if we have to prioritize frequency first.”
Earlier this year, VRT introduced the Better Bus Initiative, which was focused on getting feedback on action VRT could take to keep moving its 2018 Valley Connect 2.0 vision forward. The majority of respondents supported concepts that would provide more frequent service on fewer routes rather than less service on more routes.
“Ultimately, we’re looking to build a better bus system,” Clegg added. “We are extremely limited in funding. We’re the only subdivision of state government in the State of Idaho without taxing authority. This means we have no dedicated funding source, so we rely on funding contributions from cities, counties and other partners. Costs are outpacing contributions, and we’re working with our funding partners to do the best we can with what we have.”