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Emissions, Not Gas Prices, Increase Transit Use

Boise's degrading air quality and the fear it may lead to a loss in federal transportation funding is causing local governments to improve public transit options to get commuters out of their cars. The alternative, smog testing of cars, is resisted.

"Public transportation is taking on a greater role in Boise, with ridership way up. Air pollution is playing a major role.

After years of growth and suburban development, the region that includes Boise and its suburbs, known as the Treasure Valley (600,000 people), is on the brink of violating federal clean air standards, and experts say the only real solution is one that might seem awfully un-Idahoan: persuading people to drive less.

Faced with the prospect of expensive and unwanted federal regulations, some local leaders, including conservatives not typically drawn to environmental issues, are exploring unconventional ways to keep the federal government at arm's length by getting cars off the road.

Along with this apparent evidence that driving less really can improve air quality, a change in state law has also added pressure on the region to change. The measure, passed last spring, requires local governments in the Treasure Valley to have vehicle emissions testing (resisted by the public) or find other ways to reduce auto emissions.

East of Canyon County, in more liberal Boise, local officials are considering a streetcar line downtown, and there is talk of one day converting a rail freight line for commuter use."

Thanks to Gladwyn d'Souza

Full Story: Boise Region Grapples With Smog

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