I-way’s Grassroots Model Gets National Recognition

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Idaho is often recognized nationally as a great place to live, to work, to raise a family – with people from around the country moving here to enjoy the quality-of-life our beautiful state offers. This week, the CTAA recognized Idaho for something we’ve not typically been known for – innovation in how we are approaching our pubic transportation and mobility issues – as a result of I-way’s local coordination process.

The article, Mirror Images of Mobility appeared in the November 10 digital issue of CTAA’s Community Transportation Magazine. Rich Sampson highlights the similarities between the way Idaho and our “mirror image” (geographically speaking) sister-state, New Hampshire, are addressing the timeworn challenges of mobility and transportation in states of our size, population and geography – through locally driven decision making.

Sampson also notes that while the boundaries of Idaho and New Hampshire reflect one another, “they’re fundamentally similar to every other state in that each is a collection of neighborhoods, communities and regions, each with their own important nuances, challenges and attributes.” What does that mean? It means that other states are watching what we’re doing here in Idaho, through I-way. We’re paving the path for other states to follow and create their own models for improving mobility and public transportation services and efficiencies for the people living in their communities.

That’s very exciting! It demonstrates that through all of the work and trial and error, we are on the right path. It’s not easy work – and we’re a long way from realizing I-way’s vision of a truly multi-modal system that connects virtually the entire state. But, together, through I-way’s local coordination process, we are having an impact.

I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done so far. I’m excited about what the future holds for mobility in Idaho. And, I hope that all of you will continue with us along the journey.

- Heather Wheeler, Executive Director, CTAI

Ahh! Transit benefits about to expire!

Monday, November 22, 2010

If you take transit to get to work each day, this coming January you could pay more out of your own pocket when the transit tax deduction gets cut in half. Meanwhile drivers will keep their full parking benefit, which is double what transit commuters will be eligible to receive. For those who spend more than $120 a month on your commute in a vanpool, train or bus, the federal government will be sending a message loud and clear: they’d like you to start driving to work, where you can get $230 for parking deducted from your paycheck tax free.

A provision in the stimulus bill increased the transit benefit from $120 to $230, finally putting it on equal footing with the $230 parking benefit and extending this great benefit to everyone, whether they drive or take transit each day. But that provision is about to expire unless Congress votes to extend it during their December session.

Transportation is the second largest household expense for many households. The millions of Americans who depend on transit to get to work each day shouldn’t have to pay more to do something that also saves us energy, reduces congestion and emissions, and uses less oil.

If you do not think it is fair, then tell congress! Transportation for America has setup a petition you can sign to urge Congress to restore the transit benefit and make it equal to the parking benefit. Signatures will be delivered December 1, so you must act fast! (Source: Transportation for America)

CTAI Supports President Obama's Call for Transportation Investment

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last week President Obama urged for an investment in transportation – a move that will have a long term economic benefits for the country and meet a strong public demand for additional infrastructure investment. CTAI supports President Obama’s investment and we look forward to improvements in Idaho’s transportation infrastructure. What do you think are the greatest improvements needed in our state or within your community?

Follow this link for the full story.

Local option should be an option

Monday, July 12, 2010

The local option debate is a hot topic for transportation providers, mobility advocates, local leaders, the Idaho legislature, and the Governor’s Taskforce for Modernizing Transportation Funding. It’s a topic that is certain to remain at the forefront of the public transportation funding conversation through the next legislative session.

In June, during his State of the City Address, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, again voiced his support for the local option tax as a way to fund public transportation in the city – calling on the Idaho State Legislature to let the people decide.

Treasure Valley in Motion put forth their own call to action to the Governor’s Taskforce for Modernizing Transportation Funding on Facebook – inviting other mobility advocates and groups to do the same, and inviting Idahoans to share their comments with the taskforce.

CTAI agrees that local option should be an option. Currently, Idaho is one of three states without a dedicated funding source for public transportation. The Public Transportation Subcommittee to the Governor’s Taskforce on Modernizing Transportation Funding is delving into the current public transportation environment in Idaho and evaluating possible funding mechanisms. Their report is due in December. As part of that report, CTAI hopes to see local option tax as one funding mechanism.

Idaho’s public transportation and mobility coordination and planning system, I-way, is built on a local to state model. Local communities are identifying their unique mobility needs, developing strategies around realizing those needs, and submitting their plans to their district and then the state level. Providing options for local communities to fund their strategies is a logical next step.

While CTAI is in support of providing cities the ability to go to the voters, local option isn’t the answer to all of Idaho’s public transportation funding issues. There are a lot of things to consider when looking at funding for improving our public transportation and mobility options. We need to consider urban areas and rural communities. We need to continue to come together to coordinate, develop efficiencies in the system we have, and build partnerships to get where we’d like to be. In addition, we need to have a variety of funding mechanisms to improve public transportation and mobility in Idaho.