Boise & Garden City

Commuting to Downtown Boise? This collaborative could make it easier

Yes, Ada County, traffic is getting more congested on your commute

Growth in the Treasure Valley since the economic recession of a decade ago has put a strain on existing traffic arteries in Ada County.
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Growth in the Treasure Valley since the economic recession of a decade ago has put a strain on existing traffic arteries in Ada County.

Downtown Boise commuters may have some easier options for transportation starting in October.

The Downtown Mobility Collaborative is working to provide access to all shared transportation options for those traveling in and out of Downtown Boise, reduce the number of drivers traveling alone and make it easier for employers to provide transportation alternatives to employees.

Nearly 81% of commuters heading in and out of Downtown are by themselves, according to a report from the collaborative. Only 7.4% of commuters carpool, and fewer than 3% bike, walk or ride a motorcycle. Fewer than 1% use public transportation.

Downtown Boise contains 17,000 parking spaces, less than one for every two of the 36,000 workers. By 2040, the number of people working Downtown will reach an estimated 56,000.

“We’re not going to be able to only build our way out of it,” Kaitlin Justice, mobility collaborative program director at Valley Regional Transit, said this week at a meeting of the Boise City Council. “We can only build so many parking garages so high and roads so wide.”

The collaborative is a partnership between Valley Regional Transit, the city of Boise, the Ada County Highway District CommuteRide program, Boise State University, the Downtown Boise Association, Saint Luke’s Health System, Ada County, Old Boise and the Capital City Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal agency.

It includes three objectives: developing a “transportation wallet” to create a seamless package for transportation options, creating a mobility website that would show all options in one place, and creating a mobility app that would allow users to access and use the different options.

The wallet would allow commuters to choose among about 15 services, such as buses, shuttles, carpools, scooters and bike storage pods. Businesses could also provide workers with transportation benefits through the wallet.

In Portland, a $99 transportation wallet provides $150 worth of bus rides, unlimited rides on a streetcar system that provides light rail rides through a portion of downtown, an annual bike share program pass with 90 minutes of rides per day, and a $25 car rideshare allowance.

Boise’s program will launch in October with the transportation wallet and other services offered to employers. Individuals will be able to access them later.

“Right now, if an employer, developer or building owner wants to offer some sort of transportation benefit, they have to go through several agencies to pursue different mobility options for their employees, which is very burdensome,” Justice said.

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