Friday, September 30, 2011

For Mountain Rides, changes and success


Visitors to resort communities have learned to expect convenient public transportation. The same can be said for local residents or out-of-town business owners who may be seeking to relocate. Equally important is the expectation of local business owners for public transportation to deliver customers. Here in Sun Valley, Mountain Rides satisfies all those expectations.

Ridership on the free routes in Ketchum and Sun Valley has increased 10 percent this year and is on track to total nearly 300,000 rides. In addition, during key holiday weekends and major events, Mountain Rides adds special-occasion buses—again, free to users. These services vastly improve the quality of the experience for guests and locals alike.

Mountain Rides also operates the Valley Route from Bellevue, through Hailey and north to Ketchum and Sun Valley. Ridership on this fare-based route has increased more than 30 percent this year with a projected total of more than 170,000 rides. This cost-effective transportation solution serves visitors and locals—whether they are skiers, workers, students or seniors. These rides combine for an annual elimination from state Highway 75 of more than 2 million single-occupant-vehicle miles and the saving of 75,000 gallons of fuel. Additional benefits are reduced air pollution, less congestion on city streets and more available downtown parking.

Mountain Rides maintains a fleet of fee-based vanpools that are used by employees to commute from beyond the Wood River Valley. For employers, your support of this effort translates into an increased field of potential employees and a significant employee benefit. This year, Mountain Rides added a vanpool route to the College of Southern Idaho, thus providing valley residents with an opportunity to partake in continuing education that might not otherwise be available.

Mountain Rides was conceived and formed as a regional multi-modal transportation authority. In addition to the fixed-route bus and van service we provide throughout the valley, we are actively involved in programs such as Safe Routes to School, Smart Moves, Ride Share, Errand Run, Bike Share and many others that promote environmentally friendly modes of travel.

All of this would be impossible without the generosity of our funding partners. These partners include the cities of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey, Blaine County and Sun Valley Co., along with many other private businesses.

Our staff and management are always involved in decision-making with an eye to reducing operating costs. In the current sluggish economy, those decisions may include some minor adjustments to our routing and scheduling. But through it all, we continue to focus on being the most efficient public transportation service in Idaho while maintaining the highest possible standards of service and reliability.

We appreciate your continued support and ask that you please be a part of the transportation solution—give Mountain Rides a try.

The Mountain Rides Transportation Authority board of directors consists of Peter Everett (Ketchum), Curtis Kemp (Ketchum), Nils Ribi (Sun Valley), Mark Gilbert (Sun Valley), Jim Jaquet (Blaine County), Susan McBryant (Hailey), Joe Miczulski (Bellevue) and Steve Wolper (at-large).

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.