Can Light Rail Be a Benefit to Boise, and at What Cost?
Dr. Samia Islam
The US is becoming increasingly focused on alternate transportation, as single-driver, gas-powered vehicles are clearly untenable in the long term. As gas and oil prices increase in tandem with pollution and congestion, mass-transit systems can alleviate these problems. This project will examine light-rail transportation in the greater Boise MSA, specifically the option of using the existing Amtrak lines. We will analyze the costs of the current transportation system (i.e. highway, intracity buses); in an effort to ascertain if those costs can be allocated to the installation and maintenance of a light-rail system. We will analyze Boise MSA's potential costs and external benefits for this system, as compared to Portland's MAX system, with figures adjusted for population. Our study will look at necessary funding, operational costs, fuel usage, maintenance, jobs and employment, as well as environmental impact like pollution. We expect to find this to be a very expensive project that will pay great dividends in the decades to come.