Wednesday, August 2, 2006

KART/PEAK seeks more market share

Express Staff Writer

The rich and famous are not clamoring to get on buses.

With any luck, the middle class and locally celebrated might be persuaded to do so.

The KART/PEAK board of directors met Tuesday, Aug. 1, to discuss long-term goals and strategies to achieve them.

"Let's not have this whole discussion for the transit-dependent," said board member Peter Everett.

A polite question to the well-heeled, however, may not be sufficient.

"By the way, would you mind getting out of your BMW and taking public transit because it's good for the environment?" Everett said.

Streamlined service that targets people where they are, not just where routes have traditionally been, coupled with vehicles that incorporate fun, historical aspects of the valley, could make it a pleasure to get on the bus.

"We have a unique opportunity to give status to bus service," Everett said. "We want to be a market-driven organization."

With talk of long-term strategizing to capture more bus riders, the board is increasingly looking to Wood River RideShare, a countywide nonprofit group that promotes alternate transportation options.

"RideShare is set up to do marketing and outreach," said Executive Director Jason Miller. "We have existing relationships with employers and (others) in the community."

While KART, which serves Ketchum and Sun Valley, and PEAK, a south valley commuter service, joined forces in May, the incorporation of RideShare is still in the wings.

"This whole thing should be one organization, and the sooner the better," said board member Blair Boand. "Would you (Jason) be willing to come aboard in 20 minutes?"

Although Miller said he wanted to be a part of KART/PEAK, he asked for assurances that his budget would be protected.

Beth Callister, who serves on the KART/PEAK board but is also president of the board for RideShare, agreed.

"There's a lot of things we want to protect," she said. "They're not transit related. They're transportation-demand-management related. The (RideShare) board wants to protect all the other things we're doing."

The KART/PEAK board is also revising its mission, goals, service levels and organization, with further discussion in the coming months.

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