Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rideshare proposes regional transit plan

KART board objects to being kept out of the loop

Express Staff Writer

Wood River Rideshare, the Ketchum-based commuter-services organization, has drafted a five-year regional transportation plan that calls for terminating all existing bus services and implementing a new consolidated bus system.

The 33-page draft plan was presented last week to the directors of Ketchum Area Rapid Transit, the public agency that transports approximately 300,000 bus passengers each year in the Sun Valley-Ketchum area.

Beth Callister, executive director of Wood River Rideshare, started development of the plan late last year and has presented it in draft form to members of the Blaine County Commission and to the mayor of Sun Valley, Jon Thorson.

During KART's monthly meeting Wednesday, Feb. 16, Callister said she wanted the KART governing board to review and comment on the plan, which was designed to commence discussions on how to improve Blaine County's disjointed transit systems.

"It's just to engage people in a dialogue," Callister said. "These are just ideas."

The most significant aspects of the draft plan call for Blaine County's governmental agencies to:

· Sign an intergovernmental agreement that would mandate coordinated, regional transit services.

· Dissolve the existing bus services offered by KART, the Peak Bus and Sun Valley Co. and establish a new consolidated, expanded bus service in the greater Wood River Valley.

· Eventually develop "downtown circulator" bus services in Ketchum and Hailey, as well as peak-hour bus services from the Wood River Valley to Carey and Twin Falls.

Wood River Rideshare has estimated that the annual cost for the proposed services would be approximately $2.7 million. Currently, approximately $1 million is collectively spent each year to fund Blaine County's two existing public-transit systems, KART and the Peak Bus.

Immediately after being asked to comment on the plan, three KART directors said they felt blindsided by the presentation of a proposal they had neither seen nor heard of since it was drafted weeks earlier.

"Surprises I don't like. And this is a surprise," said board member Maurice Charlat.

Charlat said he found it "a little upsetting" that the KART board was "surprised at the last minute" by a plan that calls for seeking federal funds to initiate a regional transit authority. The draft plan does call for seeking federal transportation grant funds—which KART also seeks to sustain its operations—to help fund new projects.

Board member Blair Boand said he also was surprised that the KART board had not been given previous notice.

"I'm a Sun Valley City Councilman and this is the first I've heard of this," Boand said.

Callister acknowledged the plan perhaps should have been circulated to the KART board weeks earlier but assured that in no way was the agency being kept out of the loop.

"The intent was not to start moving forward on something and excluding KART," she said.

Sun Valley City Administrator Virginia Egger said Mayor Thorson believes the plan "is a step in the right direction." There is a feeling among some Sun Valley officials that KART should extend its services southward, she said, perhaps as a regional transit system is developed.

"Don't shoot the messenger," Egger urged.

In the end, Charlat assured Rideshare representatives that the KART board is not opposed to developing a regional transportation system, it simply does not want to be left on the sidelines as plans are advanced.

"This is a very positive group in terms of doing something toward developing down-valley transportation," Charlat said.

KART Chairman Bill Cassell concurred, saying that the KART board is "forward thinking" and "respects" what Wood River Rideshare is trying to do.

The KART board will discuss the proposed plan in greater depth during its monthly meeting in March.

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2021 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.