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.

AASHTO's Future of Transportation for 2012: CTAI's Take

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) identified its list of top ten transportation topics for 2012. Below is our take on those that apply to CTAI’s members and Idaho:

1. Enacting a long-term transportation bill: CTAI will continue to work with Idaho’s congressional delegation and staff to push for the enactment of a long-term transportation bill.

2. Managing in lean times – addressing the problem of the nation’s aging bridges, highways, and transit systems with stagnant or reduced funding: As one of two states without a dedicated source of transportation funding, and given the current economic times, CTAI is working to educate Idahoans in support of transportation funding. We received a grant to develop the I’M4CTAI campaign in which we sign up at least 1,000 transportation supporters to advocate on behalf of Idaho’s transportation needs and sources of funding.

3. Responding to and planning for natural disasters: CTAI has been working with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security and is now working with the Idaho Department of Water Resources to identify Idaho’s transportation resources for recovery and rebuilding – in the event of a natural disaster in our state. Our partnerships with these agencies will help mobilize the vehicles needed to help get Idahoans out of danger and to help transportation providers rebuild after the disaster.

4. Reducing traffic deaths: CTAI supports safer roads and reduced deaths on Idaho roads and highways. CTAI will provide support for any legislation that improves traffic safety for Idahoans.

5. Increasing the visibility of transportation as an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign: CTAI will work through national agencies in the education of long term transportation needs for our politicians.

6. Generating new ways to fund transportation: As part of the I’M4CTAI campaign, CTAI will work to mobilize advocates and partner agencies in support of a local option tax authority to help cities and counties fund transportation needs in Idaho.

7. Advancing intercity passenger rail

8. Engaging the business community in support of transportation: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to educate Idaho Businesses on the benefits of improving transportation options such as public transportation, carpooling, vanpooling, and ridematching.

9. Serving a growing elderly population, both rural and urban: CTAI mobility managers and staff will continue to partner with senior centers and agencies that serve the elderly population in identifying opportunities and partnerships that will lead to improved transportation options for seniors.

10. Responding to new stormwater reforms and other environmental regulations.

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...

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.