CTAI Blog

The Rise of Multi-Modal

Monday, June 10, 2013
by: Vanassa Fry - District 4 Mobility Manager

As part of the US Department of Transportation’s Strategic Plan 2012-2016 former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood steered the nation towards a course of multimodal transportation that supports livable communities.  Not only does multimodal transportation offer safer, more convenient travel it also will help the US move away from our reliance on foreign oil.  Sounds like a good plan, right?  Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

For decades transportation modes have acted independently of one another in the way they’ve been managed and funded. Main Street could have a state highway bisecting it with only a few safe places to cross for the entire stretch through town.  A county’s road and bridge department rarely communicated with local public transportation entities and vice versa.  Now, with funding getting tighter for everyone and funders requesting collaboration on projects we’re seeing unusual partnerships form with successful outcomes.

Hailey, Idaho is one such success.  When the federal government released TIGER II funding Hailey partnered with Idaho Transportation Department, Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, Blaine County Recreation District, College of Southern Idaho and others to garner $3.5M in funds for the Woodside Boulevard Complete Streets Initiative.  Prior to the project, Woodside Boulevard, the thoroughfare through the densest part of town, offered little in the way of pedestrian and bicycle amenities, exposing riders and walkers to fast-moving traffic on the narrow street.  Drivers were challenged by the lack of traffic signals enabling access to the state highway.

Now sidewalks line both sides of the street, bike lanes allow riders to safely maneuver through the neighborhood, and cars and buses are able to make protected turns onto the state highway. This project and others across Idaho prove that Complete Streets projects are safer, promote economic vitality, are more convenient and offer transportation choices by not singling out one mode as more important than others.

Interested in learning more about how you can form collaborative relationships and pursue a Complete Streets project?  Contact your local mobility manager.  To learn more about other transportation options in Idaho visit I-way.org.  I-way can help you find an accessible and efficient transportation option to get you to your destination.

Sustainability through Public Transit

Monday, May 06, 2013
By: Dave Doran, CTAI District 5 Mobility Manager

Many consider public transit to be a cost effective and practical alternative to driving. Indeed, public transit services provide citizens with an economical choice on how to move about their community, but these services also provide significant values in terms of sustainability. Public transit use increases both short and long-term sustainability in multiple sectors of our economy including business, personal and regional health and the environment. 

The use of public transit can free up financial resources individuals might otherwise have dedicated to the operation and maintenance of a personal vehicle. This has the potential to create more economic stability within the individual’s family / household and ultimately less stress for resources. In the long term, increased use of transit also creates jobs -generating more economic prosperity in a progressive industry and reducing American consumption and dependence on non-renewable and foreign energy sources.  The use of other forms of transit, like shuttles and vanpools, is also good for employers and their business development. Having a vanpool or another transportation choice to get employees to work can allow employers to draw a more competitive workforce from beyond the immediate vicinity and from the greater region. It can also increase safety and punctuality to the worksite, and reduce absenteeism and stress in the workforce; all of which increase productivity and generate added corporate revenue. This industry potential can also draw more businesses to Idaho communities creating increased regional economic prosperity.

By taking cars off the road, public transit also reduces carbon dioxide and other harmful particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere through vehicle emissions, which improves regional air quality and citizen health. In addition, most public transit trips begin and end with a pedestrian or bicycle trip to and from the transit stop. Consequently, those who use transit as a regular source of transportation are more likely to be physically active than their single-occupancy-vehicle driving counterparts. This is a critical thought when you consider that in 2011, 27% of Idaho adults were considered obese and that over $320 million dollars was spent in Idaho in 2010 on related health concerns (Landis Nov. 9, 12). Having a more physically active society will ultimately reduce obesity rates and expenditures on other health related concerns, sustaining a healthier environment on multiple planes. 

Public transportation services also provide a sustainable contribution to communities by ultimately preserving tax-based infrastructure and departmental expenditures dedicated to maintaining roads and bridges. This is essential for states like Idaho who have large transportation networks covering many miles of roads, with a small population base to adequately support such infrastructure.

Additionally, public transportation industries are becoming more sustainable in and of themselves. Through the incorporation of intermodal transit facilities,and moving one step further by implementing architecturally certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for those facilities, transit agencies like Pocatello Regional Transit (PRT) are paving the way for sustaining public transit services in a strained national economic state. With the utility cost savings PRT will soon realize in their LEED –Silver certified intermodal transit facility, public funds can potentially be dedicated to expand and improve service operations. Additionally,considering technological advancements in alternative fuel sources like compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid propane auto-gas, transit agencies have additional opportunities to increase their already dedicated involvement in sustaining the health, environment and economic stability of our country. 

*Landis, Bruce W. “The Dollars and Sense of Bicycling and Walking: Idaho’s Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan Stakeholders Groups’ Kick-off” Roadshow.”  Nov. 9, 2012.

Community Planning Group Encourages Biking and Walking

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Minnesota-based Community Planning group called 'Smart Towns' is currently touring Idaho to share their ideas for re-modelling the average American community to be less automobile-centric. An important idea in our growing environment of commuter communities, incorporating more biking and walking into our communities would be overall healthier, would create a more cost-effective lifestyle, and more responsible use of tax funds.

As explained in Strong Towns' Mission Statement

"The current approach to growth emphasizes investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development. This approach uses public dollars inefficiently, destructively subsidizes one type of development over another and leaves massive maintenance liabilities to future generations.

A Strong Town approach emphasizes obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure investments. We can no longer simply disregard old investments in favor of new, but instead we need to focus on making better use of that which we are already committed to publicly maintain."

Planning more responsibly for community growth and development will allow our communities to bolster public transit and provide on-going support for bike paths and walking trails, rather than pouring funds into highway expansion and the constant expense of maintenance.

CTAI encourages all Idahoans to take advantage of opportunities to educate yourself on the status of your community, and certainly to let your own voice be heard! Strong Towns' 'Curbside Chat' programs will be on-going throughout Idaho until February 22nd and will include a community-specific discussion session. 

Bike and Pedestrian Funding Still on the Chopping Block Come the March Reauthorization

Friday, September 16, 2011

Although the Senate has agreed to extend the existing transportation bill for six months without any policy changes, The Washington Post reports that Senator Coburn of Oklahoma is expected to work to eliminate the small program that funds the lion’s share of bike and pedestrian projects.

This program represents less than 2 percent of all federal transportation spending and for 20 years has been the primary funding source for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and trails.

If you support biking and walking safety, contact your Congressmen and ask them to keep the funding in place to keep our bikers and walkers safe in our communities.

Transportation Reauthorization Extended...Again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Community Transportation Association of Idaho commends Congress for extending the nation's surface transportation at current funding levels.

"The six-month extension of federal highway and transit programs approved by Congress this week ensures the continuation of critical services and thousands of job-creating infrastructure projects across the nation," said Heather Wheeler, CTAI executive director. "We congratulate the leadership on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate for their hard work to bring about this extension. We encourage Congress and the Administration to develop and pass a robust, multi-year surface reauthorization bill over the next six months. CTAI is prepared to work with the Idaho Congressional Delegation with the development of this bill."

Watch the APTA video...