Ada county’s transit system needs updating

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Imagine a student in Caldwell, Idaho who has a 9 a.m. class at Boise State. With no car, they’re forced to wake up at least an hour before catching the bus at Happy Day Transit Center. At 6:30 a.m., the Route 41 bus arrives at their station, but they will not arrive at Boise State until 8:06 a.m. Driving would have taken them only 28 minutes according to Google Maps.

Scenarios such as this, Ada County’s transit system should adapt and change all bus schedules to Monday through Sunday, 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Boise State students forced to use ValleyRide have less transit opinions due to limited bus schedules. Between the busyness of college classes and college life, the last thing students should worry about is a bus schedule. In order to increase ridership, we must first improve ValleyRide.

Limited Schedules

If you don’t have a car, walking or riding a bike may be your only alternative with Ada Country’s transit system which can be either impossible or worrisome (at night or in harsh weather).

Students traveling by bus are forced to schedule their classes with their bus schedule–specifically students riding on Inter county Routes.

Also, according to Ada County’s transit website, ValleyRide has 18 weekday routes–most operating between 5:15 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. Out of these 18 routes, eight routes operate on Saturday, with no routes on Sunday. Without routes operating on weekends, many students will have to make extra arrangements to involve themselves in college life.

Added Stress

According to the academic article “Running for the 7:45: The effects of public transit improvements on commuter stress”  by Richard Wener and others, two studies revealed commuting through mass transit can result in stress due to factors such as the time and predictability of the commute. The more time the commute takes, the more stress is given to the commuter.

“The findings demonstrate a relationship between the nature and quality of the commute-to-work on mass transit and psychological/psychophysiological stress, with multiple methodological indicators,” Wener wrote.

In a previous interview concerning Boise State’s population growth, James Anderson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, stated Boise State is a place for networking and socializing—not just a place to take classes.

“We want students to stay on campus because it’s a place to study, place to network, a place to meet with one another, and when students do that, they have a higher success rate,” Anderson said.

Boise State faculty additionally push for “green” ways of travel such as riding a bike or taking public transportation—making cycling accessible on campus with GreenBike and free bus fare for students. According to an academic article by Alex Bond and Ruth Steiner entitled “Sustainable campus transportation through transit partnership and transportation demand management: A case study from the university of florida,” fare cost is not the only factor to ridership; but instead, improved service also attracts bus riders.

“By reducing the total wait time—and thus the total travel time—transit begins to become competitive with the private automobile in terms of convenience,” Bond and Steiner wrote. “Evans found that frequency elasticity for transit ridership is 0.5—for every 10 percent increase in frequency, ridership goes up by 5 percent.”

Waukesha County in Wisconsin has a similar population to Ada County, however their public transit system—Waukesha Metro—has less restricting schedules than Valleyride.

According to Suburbanstats.org, Ada County has a population of about 392,365 people. In Wisconsin, Waukesha County has a population of 391,200 people, according to CRE Demographics; but unlike Ada County, their transit system runs Monday through Sunday.

On average, Waukesha Metro’s bus schedule run from 5:35 a.m. to 9:50 p.m. on weekdays. Although their Saturday and Sunday bus schedule fluctuates, Saturdays average 8:20 a.m. to 9:25 p.m.–Sundays averaging 9:20 a.m. to 6:25 p.m.

Although Waukesha Metro’s Sunday schedule is restricting, they still run every day of the week. With a slightly higher population, Ada County’s transit system still has a stricter schedule than Waukesha Metro.

Ada County and Boise State are only getting bigger. As of now, Boise State has a fall semester population of 24,154, and Boise State faculty only suspects it will get bigger. With the total enrollment this fall semester, Boise State is a town of its own.

As Ada County and Boise continue to grow, Valleyride needs to grow with the population and accept the growing pains that come with it, because a transit system should be made to make lives easier–not dictate students’ schedules.

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1 Comment

  1. Having grown up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I’m astounded to read that Waukesha County’s population is up to almost 400,000. It’s a 24 mile square just west of Milwaukee County with half the area and more than twice the population. Together, they comprise 890 square miles and a population over 1.3 million.

    I’m a bit astounded at Canyon County’s population too, but Ada and Canyon counties together comprise 1,645 sq. mi. and a population of 580,000. 1,460 people/sq mi vs. a bit over 350; one quarter the population density.

    Given the importance of population density to mass transit (and vice versa), you might want to look a little harder for a comparable metro area.

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