Public transportation service in Idaho Falls closing operations
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IDAHO FALLS – After a long history of financial woes, Targhee Regional Public Transit Authority, a public transportation company based in Idaho Falls, will dissolve its services permanently.
During an emergency meeting Monday, the TRPTA board voted unanimously to shut down.
“In partnership with staff, stakeholders and the Board of Directors, plans are currently being made for an orderly shutdown that ideally would take place within a 90-day timeframe,” Idaho Falls city councilwoman and TRPTA board member Michelle Ziel-Dingman said in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com.
TRPTA is funded partially by the Federal Transit Authority. Mike O’Bleness, the chairman of the TRPTA board, says federal dollars have been shrinking over the last several years, and TRPTA hasn’t been able to find other sources of local funding.
“Then this year with the federal government shutdown, we had to remove some of our administrative positions,” O’Bleness says.
Concerns about the lack of administrative staff and internal control at TRPTA led the FTA to restrict access to some of those federal dollars without additional oversight, O’Bleness says.
“When you add costs and don’t get any more money, it results in financial losses,” says O’Bleness. “We felt like it was important to give the riding public adequate notice for them to find other alternatives. That’s why we voted Monday to start the (90-day) shutdown process.”
TRPTA provides about 23,000 rides a year to people in the Bonneville County metropolitan area, which includes Idaho Falls, Ammon, Iona, and Ucon. It also provides transportation to customers in Rexburg and Teton County. Many of those customers are people with disabilities or people who can’t drive for medical reasons.
Though TRPTA serves less than 1 percent of the urbanized area, O’Bleness feels public transportation services are vital for those who do use it. He hopes that the closure will lead to another local opportunity for customers.
“The Board of Directors and TRPTA staff are committed to working with the community to ensure that those who rely upon this service are taken care of,” says Ziel-Dingman. “Going forward, I am personally committed to being involved with a community conversation on how to best meet the needs of our residents who seek public transportation.”
You can visit the TRPTA website for the most up-to-date information as the shutdown process continues to unfold.
TRPTA is an independent government entity created by Bonneville County voters in 1994. In 2002, it started operating its own buses as the Public Transit Authority transit service. The transit facility at 1810 West Broadway in Idaho Falls was purchased in 2003.