Mayor Bieter has been promoting a trolley for downtown Boise and a means of mass transit. Apparently the City is going to try to get stimulus money to help get the project off the ground. He was on the radio this AM talking about starting it in 2011, and finishing (the 1st phase) in 2012.
I don't agree with the need for a trolley. Boise's downtown core is too small to justify one, and I don't see it being extended beyond the core for a long time. It's too expensive to lay track over large areas. Also, unless they buy right of way and build new lanes for the trolley, it will be running on current over crowded traffic lanes.
The only mass transport rail that made sense to me was Mayor Cole's idea of using existing track and shuttle between Boise and Nampa/Caldwell. The problem their being, of course, what happens when you disembark from the train.
Boise does not have a functioning mass transit system. The buses don't run enough, it's too long between pickups, and they don't cover much area.
I have to agree with the Boise Guardian that I can't see the sense in Boise running those large buses that are NEVER close to being full. I think the Guardian's suggestion is to have a van fleet run as buses. Perhaps the bus-like shuttle vans like they have from airports to rental car lots. This makes some sense.
Use stimulus money to buy a number of vans (preferably hybrid powered) for a pilot project/feasibility study and set up a few routes that resemble mass transit in a city. That is, a van would come by every few minutes, no more than 10. This would build ridership and the city could expand the routes as demand required.
The down side of this, of course, is the one of the most expensive components is the driver. More vans means more drivers, possibly offsetting the savings from using smaller buses. After a couple of years, the city ought to know if it will work.
The trolley is such an expensive gamble that it's difficult to recover from. There are places in Boise where tracks from the last trolley can still be seen. I hope Bieter's trolley doesn't become Bieter's folly.