Friday, June 10, 2005

Sun Valley council supports transit plans

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council signaled support last week for a long-term regional transit system. The council voted to allocate $13,000 to Blaine County to assist in purchasing a transit coach vehicle for service between Bellevue and Sun Valley.

The council's support came with a handful of concerns.

"This is a good example of working together on our highest priority—getting workers to their jobs and establishing a regional transportation system," Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael said.

On behalf of the county, Michael requested funds from Sun Valley to help purchase a 42-passenger vehicle to provide Peak Bus service.

Plans to buy the bus demonstrate the county's intentions of operating a regional transit bus, shifting control to the county for more reliability and better service. Currently, the Peak Bus service is sub-contracted to the Sun Valley Express bus line and Wood River Rideshare, a commuter services organization.

The request to the city came in conjunction with petitions for the city of Ketchum and Sun Valley Co. to partner in the effort through financial contributions.

Although council members Kevin Laird, Lud Renick and Blair Boand voted June 1 in favor of the request, all voiced concerns about the proposal. Councilwoman Ann Agnew did not partake in the transit discussion.

"I am not convinced this is the way to go. I believe in regional transportation, but you have to give me more meat," Renick said.

Renick requested a detailed transportation plan.

Laird voiced a concern over the cost effectiveness of the system, and questioned the county's willingness to help fund Ketchum Area Rapid Transit, the bus system that provides service in and around the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum.

"We are already doing our part in a lot bigger way than the county has ever thought about," Laird said.

Boand's support came with a note for neighboring jurisdictions.

"I hope that down-valley (communities) will some time in the future participate in a greater way," Boand said.

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