In 2019, Valley Regional Transit announced it would launch a bus route for Meridian that would connect residents to shopping, housing, and places of employment. But now the route has been delayed.
The Route 30 Pine was slated to start in 2021. It would primarily run down Pine Ave. and it would loop around the Village and go up to Ten Mile Rd. The connection at the Ten Mile stop would give riders the option to travel to Boise or Caldwell.
VRT’s Program Director, Dave Fotsch said the route was supposed to start on October 1, 2021. But at a recent VRT meeting, the board approved a postponement.
COVID-19 cases are once again surging in the Treasure Valley, and Fotsch said the start date is ‘conditional’ depending on COVID-19 numbers, remote workers, and ridership numbers. He said the soonest the Pine route would start is January 2022.
“The reasons being, we are seeing this surge in the Delta variant of the COVID virus,” he said. “And we don’t know exactly where that’s going to take us. Our overall ridership in Ada County has not recovered to pre-COVID levels. We’re at about 70% of where we were in 2019 at this time. We would like to see a little more recovery somewhere closer to 90% for a sustained period of time, say, three months or so.”
Electric bus delays
There is one other major factor delaying the start date of this route: busses. In 2020 VRT announced ValleyRide’s new electric bus line, which BoiseDev told you about here.
VRT ordered 12 battery-powered busses, but the pandemic has delayed the delivery, Fotsch said. Currently, they have only received one bus. He said the hope was to get another last week and have two more by October 1, the original start date for the Meridian route.
“We are hoping to test them, the charging capability, the distance capability, all of that over the summer months, so that we can devote two of those buses to this new Meridian service,” he said. “And folks, in Meridian were really excited about that. But we only have one bus right now.”
Currently, only bus Route 40 and 42 serve Meridian Intercounty lines, the City of Meridian website said.
“There hasn’t been anything in Meridian proper,” Fotsch said. “So this would be the first route that actually serves downtown Meridian and pars pivot east and west.”