Friday, January 20, 2006

KART advances expansion plans

Creation of regional transportation authority promoted

Express Staff Writer

New members of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Transit Authority board are sworn in Wednesday, Jan. 18, at Ketchum City Hall. From the left are Ron Parsons, Ketchum City Councilman; Virginia Eggers, Sun Valley City Administrator; Peter Everett, regional and transportation planning consultant from Ketchum; and Joan Lamb, Sun Valley Planning & Zoning Commissioner. Parsons takes the place of Randy Hall, who was elected mayor of Ketchum in November. Everett replaces Maurice Charlat, who ran against Hall for mayor. Eggers and Lamb replace Sun Valley representatives Dick Andersen and John O'Connor. Bill Cassell stays on as KART board chairman. KART is run by a joint-powers agreement between the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum. The cities' respective mayors appoint board members. Photo by David N. Seelig

With changing needs and shifting demographics, the Ketchum-Sun Valley Transit Authority is looking to expand its board of directors to better address valley residents' needs.

The Ketchum City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 17 unanimously approved a resolution supporting the creation of the regional transportation authority.

The city of Sun Valley has also authorized the expansion.

The amended operating agreement would include as part of KART Blaine County and all five cities in the county.

The agreement could pave the way to incorporate PEAK and Wood River Ride Share into the regional transit agency.

Transit consultant Amy Ostrander, whose services are paid for by a grant from Idaho Transportation Department, discussed with the KART board Wednesday, Jan. 18, how to reorganize the body.

"I need to hear what you want," she said. "This is your project."

Federal grants are available to enhance service, Ostrander said, but certain limitations apply.

Public-private partnerships, perhaps with Sun Valley Co., are possible, but bus service must be open to the general public if federal grant money is used, she said.

Likewise, routes and schedules can accommodate schools, but the general public must have equal access.

Having skiers, school children and commuters all on the same bus could pose problems, both with attracting riders and creating a service to fit particular needs, said one board member.

"I don't think we've done a very good job marking mass transit," said Peter Everett. "We may attract one market but we may alienate another market. We have to in part market on status."

Ostrander will come back to the KART board in March with a report on management strategies, identification of possible partnerships, ridership projections and funding sources.

The next phase of her work will include public hearings, marketing plans and a capital improvement plan for buses, shelters and other related amenities.

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