Fresh and returning members of the newly expanded Ketchum Area Rapid Transit board hopped aboard a bus recently to see the end results of their efforts.
The board's meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15, included a trip from Ketchum City Hall to the bus barn, a tour of the facility and a brief history of KART.
Now, more than a decade after its inception, the transportation authority board includes representatives from multiple Blaine County cities and the county itself. The orientation offered new members a glimpse into the past, present and future of the agency.
The change is in response to shifting needs of a growing community.
"By expanding the board, our hope is to make it a countywide system," Board Chairman Bill Cassell said after the meeting. "It's being driven by many things, including the traffic coming up (from the south valley) and requests from residents to (expand). We're really excited about making it countywide."
KART, which travels routes in Ketchum and Sun Valley, has seen a dip in rider numbers over the years. Meanwhile, gridlock continues to increase on state Highway 75 as south valley residents commute to work in Ketchum and Sun Valley.
Blaine County has signed on to a new operating agreement, and the city of Hailey is considering its position.
Carol Brown, a Hailey City Council member, told board members that the city was hesitant to make a commitment without knowing how much money would have to be allocated.
"What is our financial commitment to this? Without knowing that, they felt very uncomfortable," she said.
Virginia Egger, board member and Sun Valley city administrator, said per the new agreement, the cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum are the only ones required to commit funding.
She noted that cities can participate in the discussion as non-voting, ex-officio liaisons, or they can sign the agreement without making a financial commitment.
The city of Bellevue has expressed enthusiasm over the new operating agreement and is considering in-kind contributions such as land for a bus stop.
Terry Crawford, KART manager, reported to the board that KART is operating under budget.
In administration, KART is $5,000 under budget, while in operations, the agency is approximately $33,000 under budget.
Net revenue over expenditures show that KART is operating $47,000 on the plus side.
Passenger numbers for January 2006 appeared to be down by a whopping 8,000 riders, mostly from the Warm Springs route.
But, upon further review, Crawford found that one driver had overstated the numbers.
Subsequent comparison in January passenger numbers showed little change from the same month last year.