State Officials Continue to Block New Transit Hub

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Idaho on Your Side and The Associated Press recently reported on the struggles that Boise's public transportation officials are having as they attempt to create a new transit hub. 

The proposed hub would be across the street from the State Capitol building.

It would be nice if there were good, sound, logical reasons for the controversy. Unfortunately, the reasons don't seem to amount to much more than pure snobbery. The Idaho Statesman indicated that State Representatives Brent Crane and John Vander Woude told Mayer Bieter that they didn't want "those people" near the Statehouse.

"Those people" would be the homeless, who Crane believes are especially attracted to transit hubs.

The assertion doesn't make much sense. If you want to reduce the number of homeless people that you're forced to look at on a daily basis the answer is not to create a system where only those people who can afford to drive gas guzzlers can get to where they need to be. Nor is it to assume that human worth is measured by the things that one can afford to own.

The answer is to expand opportunities so that fewer people will have to live on the streets in the first place. Expanding transportation infrastructure will create more jobs. It will also provide people with a means to get to those jobs that they don't currently have. Both of these things together would in turn reduce the number of homeless people.

But the point is actually rather moot, considering the way that the project has been outlined. The transit center would not just be a bus station. It would hold apartment homes, stores, and offices, places that create more jobs and places to live. It would do this while serving as a hub for bike sharing, car sharing, van pools, shuttles, taxis, and the city bus system.

Raising the specter of "those people" seems all the more spurious when one considers the fact that Mayer Bieter had announced plans to place a police station within the hub itself specifically with an eye towards reducing or eliminating problems with the transportation hub.

Fortunately, the fight isn't over yet. Valley Regional Transit Executive Director Kelli Fairless has already stated that she intends to keep trying, and will soon be forming citizen action committees to address this important issue. 

New ways to save, when driving alone is the only option...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

May in Motion was a call to encourage individuals to ditch their single occupancy vehicle and ride the bus, walk, bike, or carpool. My personal May in Motion challenge was to carpool and take the bus once a week, when the children were taken to piano by their dad. My success was great for carpooling, but I never quite made it on the bus.

As parents, it is hard to leave the car behind, particularly when you are concerned with potential emergencies and sick kids during the day. Locally, I had the option of signing up for the “Emergency Ride Home Program” from ACHD Commuteride. But I found excuses to get around it and found someone to carpool with me everyday instead.

The challenge came week three when I had several meetings and needed the vehicle at odd times, so carpooling was not an option and I drove alone. Although I did carpool the final week, I found out how easy it is to fall back into the convenience of driving alone.

So if it is this easy to find excuses to drive, how can I save money and lower my carbon footprint? With all the improvements in technology, I figured there must be something out there to help all of us who need to drive but can’t afford to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. So I did some research and found that Garmin nuvi navigation systems have ecoRoute software that routes the most fuel efficient way to get where you need to go. More importantly, there is a unit called the ecoRoute HD which connects to your vehicles OBD II port and acts as a diagnostic system.

According to the Garmin website, the ecoRoute HD provides customizable gauges to monitor RPM, air/fuel mixture, oil pressure, oil temp, coolant temp, air flow, fuel flow, air pressure, and more; reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC) allows you to view over 4000 trouble codes, their meaning, and reset the check engine light; and, also accurate fuel consumption data can actually help you improve MPG.

So I purchased the ecoRoute HD for $87 on Amazon.com and to save money, I swapped smart phones with a coworker in order to install the Garmin Mechanic software that works on the Android platform. I tried it this past week but in all honesty, I didn’t understand the readings to well. I actually gave up on trying this with the phone as it didn't connect half the time.

Yesterday I purchased the Garmin nuvi 1490T  (a great deal at $139 after a $20 Costco rebate) to test my fuel savings and carbon footprint. Over the next few weeks I will diligently track my ecoRoute results, learn more about what the readings are telling me, and see how my gas mileage or driving improves! In addition, I am committed to carpooling to work and other appointments or meetings when possible.

Compressed Natural Gas as an Alternative Fuel Source

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Compressed Natural Gas, otherwise known as CNG, is growing in popularity as an alternate source of fuel across the United States. In Idaho, Allied Waste has set the example by converting all of its trash collection vehicles to run on CNG, in addition, Valley Ride in Ada County runs several of the Boise buses on CNG. This fuel has a reputation of being a cleaner and less expensive alternative to traditional gasoline and diesel. In addition, using natural gas would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. There are many vehicle types that can be fueled by CNG, including passenger cars and trucks, passenger and cargo vans, utility trucks, cutaways, shuttle buses, and heavy-duty trucks and buses.

The price of CNG is on average $0.80 to $1.25 less per gasoline gallon equivalent, and give the price of gas, that savings is going to increase. In addition, there are tax credits available to convert vehicles and for the purchase of new CNG fueled vehicles. The cost of a typical conversion pays for itself in about 4.2 years and assumes a life-cycle savings of $8,000 over a seven year period (source: Shift to CNG).

The problem in Idaho is the lack of public fueling stations. The opportunity is that federal funding is available to help set up fueling stations along major corridors of the state.

So what would it take for you to change over to CNG?