As Blaine County leaders and residents embark on an ambitious plan to guide future development, transportation officials are hoping that regional transit will be factored in with land-use plans.
"We let development occur where it occurs, then we say, 'Oops, we gotta get transportation out there," said Peter Everett, Ketchum Area Rapid Transit board member. "You can serve development very well by public transportation if it's linear. If you're winding buses around a sprawled suburb, it's three or four times the length of the trip in a car."
KART is in the process of merging with Peak Bus, a valley commuter bus service. As demographics shift and residents move south but commute north, transportation experts are trying to reconfigure services to better accommodate passengers.
At the same time, the county is working to manage growth through proposed zoning ordinances called "Blaine County 2025." The framework is still being hammered out at the planning and zoning level.
"We've got to coordinate service with land-use planning," Everett told fellow board members during KART's meeting Wednesday, April 19. "I would like to see this board write a letter to the Blaine County commissioners and say, 'We would hope you coordinate regional transportation with your plans.'"
The long corridor connecting the south and north county is ideal for public transportation, allowing people to walk to bus stops on state Highway 75.
But some depictions of a future Blaine County envision looser, less-dense development, which won't help address transportation needs, Everett said. "I think we're going to have trouble serving that with regional transportation service," he said.
"I tend to agree wholeheartedly," said board member Virginia Egger, the Sun Valley city administrator. "Transportation should lead land-use development and not the other way around."
Transportation consultant Amy Ostrander presented to the board a summary of her ongoing consolidation study.
She reviewed job descriptions, wage surveys and other administrative elements of reorganization.
Her suggested timetable for consolidation includes KART assuming administration of the Peak Bus, as well as administration of the pertinent Blaine County grant, this summer. KART would also provide drivers for Peak Bus for some trips.
Peak Bus would add one morning, afternoon and evening trip this summer using grant funding.
In July, new winter schedules could be drafted and approved.
Wood River Ride Share would eventually be folded into the consolidated organization but on a looser time frame.