March 26 Update
Valley Regional Transit (VRT) remains strong in its commitment to help stop the spread of the COVOD-19 virus while providing essential transportation services to the public. On March 25, Governor Brad Little issued a statewide stay-at-home order. The public is urged to use public transportation only to access essential services such as medical appointments and grocery shopping. Download a FAQ summary about VRT and the coronavirus
In response to the governor’s order, and to ensure social distancing and address declining ridership, VRT is implementing the following changes, effective Friday (March 27):
- Our transit facilities will be closed to the public. The closures affect Main Street Station in downtown Boise; the Happy Day Transit Center in Caldwell; and the VRT administrative offices in downtown Meridian. Buses that staged inside Main Street Station will now pick up passengers along Main Street between 9th Street and the entrance to Main Street Station. Because of these facility closures, there may be delays in retrieving items from the lost and found.
- Bus route changes in Boise/Garden City (Please note that Saturday service will remain the same):
- VRT will temporarily suspend operating the following Boise/Garden City routes: 8X, 11, 16 and 17. These routes are being suspended due to extremely low ridership
- VRT will provide hourly service on Boise routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7A-B, 8, 12, 28, 29
- Route 10 Hill Road will operate hourly service except between 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m., when service will be every 30 minutes
- Route 9 State Street will operate on 15-minute frequency all day
- Bus route changes for intercounty service:
- Route 40 Nampa/Meridian Express will make three morning runs departing Nampa at 5:45 a.m., 6 a.m. and 6:15 a.m., and three afternoon runs departing at 2:45 p.m., 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
- Route 43 Caldwell Express will only make the 6:15 a.m. run and the 4:40 p.m. run.
- Route 45 Boise State/CWI Express will operate only in the evenings, leaving CWI for three round trips at 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
- Bus route changes for Nampa/Caldwell
- VRT will temporarily suspend operating the route 55 CWI Shuttle due to the closure of the College of Western Idaho campus.
- There are no changes planned for routes 42, 51, and 52
- ACCESS paratransit services will operate as usual.
- The VRT Help Desk (208-345-7433) will also continue to operate on its regular schedule.
- Boise GreenBike, VRT’s bike sharing service, will suspend all operations while the stay-at-home order is in place. “While we would like to continue offering transportation alternatives, it is in the best interest of the citizens we serve and the people we employ to suspend operations temporarily,” said Dave Fotsch, Boise GreenBike director.
Fotsch said while GreenBike staff have taken extraordinary measures to keep the bikes and kiosks clean and disinfected, ridership has declined steadily since the city of Boise implemented increasingly strict orders that have resulted in closed businesses, public buildings and playgrounds.
A reminder: one of the best tactics to fight the coronavirus is practicing social distancing, or remaining at least six feet away from others. To help achieve social distancing, VRT last week stopped collecting fares and asked riders to enter a bus from the rear doors when possible. Once inside the bus, passengers are being asked to sit as far away from other passengers as possible. If the service changes result in too many people on a bus to ensure adequate social distancing spacing, additional buses could be brought into service.
March 25 update
Governor Brad Little on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-home order because of the COVID-19 crisis. Public transportation is vital because it provides access to jobs, medical care, and groceries. All state residents are being asked to limit travel to only essential services, whether in a personal vehicle or on public transit. We want to assure our customers that ValleyRide bus service and paratransit service will continue. But we are looking at service modifications that will help with social distancing and other tactics designed to prevent the spread of the virus. We will provide a complete update on what changes will occur in our system by noon Thursday (March 26).
UPDATE: We are still working on the specifics of any additional service changes being planned in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We hope to have the update available later Thursday. Thank you for your patience.
Valley Regional Transit postpones service improvements scheduled for March 30 and will not collect fares during the COVID-19 crisis
In the constantly evolving COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, Valley Regional Transit (VRT) is taking proactive steps to protect those who ride the buses and those who drive them. Starting Saturday (March 21) ValleyRide bus operators and ACCESS drivers will not collect fares. Bus riders will be asked to enter and exit the buses using the rear door when and if it is possible. Once on the bus, passengers are encouraged to practice social distancing and sit as far away from other passengers as possible. The new policy helps to protect the drivers by distancing them from passengers at the fare box.
ValleyRide buses provide a vital lifeline service to those who can’t or don’t drive. Because of this, it has been the goal of VRT to continue transit services on a regular schedule. However, the agency has seen ridership decline an average of 25 percent since the beginning of March. Some routes have seen larger ridership drops than others, and there will come a time when the agency will have to make choices about which routes to continue operating and which ones to suspend.
“We want to continue providing service to those who rely on our buses to get to and from work,” said Kelli Badesheim, VRT executive director. “That’s why we will prioritize those routes serving the most people.”
The COVID-19 coronavirus is disrupting business as usual all over the world and has forced VRT to postpone planned service improvements to ValleyRide bus service scheduled to be implemented on Monday, March 30. A new implementation date will be set after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Stephen Hunt, principal planner for VRT, said the delay is in response to the actions of local and national leaders to limiting public gatherings and avoiding unnecessary travel and public contact to slow the spread of COVID-19 virus.
“It is a prudent decision at this time not to implement and promote the service improvements during the COVID-19 crisis,” Hunt explained. “We are excited about providing these service improvements to our riders, and they will be implemented as soon as we are told it is safe to encourage travel again.”
The planned service improvements will include new service to the city of Eagle; later weekday service on the Route 2 Broadway; later Saturday service on four Saturday bus routes in Boise; and timing changes on all routes designed to improve on-time performance. More information about the service changes can be found at:
VRT operates with about 90 drivers covering 25 routes in Ada and Canyon counties. Because public transit provides a vital service to many people who either can’t or don’t drive, the agency is trying to maintain regular service as long as it is practicable. All VRT buses and public facilities are being routinely cleaned and disinfected to reduce the chances of the COVID-19 virus from being spread on frequently touched surfaces.
VRT continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will be following the guidance of federal, state and local authorities. The agency encourages the public to seek more information about the COVID-19 coronavirus from reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
VRT will post updates on service to its website: valleyregionaltransit.org, and on social media. Customers can also call the Help Desk at 208-345-7433.