produces new free, scheduled
A true partnership involves groups and organizations joining together to accomplish collectively what they could not do separately.
Perhaps there is no better example than the creation of a new transportation system serving four Valley County communities and one of the nation’s newest four-seasons destination resort – Valley County Connections.
Leaders came together Wednesday in Cascade to formally launch the free county transportation system that provides daily access to health care providers, community services, shopping, employment and recreation. The system serves McCall, Donnelly, Lake Fork and Cascade and the growing Tamarack Resort. It provides a fixed route that operates about 12 hours per day, from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Efforts to bring a schedule-based public transportation system to the area began more than 2 1⁄2 years ago, explained Butch Ragsdale, a grants officer for ITD’s Division of Public Transportation. Initially, community leaders identified seasonal traffic, fueled by tourism and recreation – as McCall’s greatest public transportation need.
Further analysis, however, indicated the need for local service to transport residents to medical and social services, shopping and schools. At the same time McCall’s inter-city system was developing, Valley County’s newest enterprise – Tamarack – began developing a bus service to transport its employees from the northern part of the county to the resort seven miles west of Donnelly.
purchased four coach-style busses to serve its growing employee base.
Resort leaders graciously allowed non-employees to ride as long as space
“We needed a major ‘community-oriented’ partner that was willing to play an active role in developing the area’s public transportation system,” Ragsdale explained. “We looked at the available assets, the community’s needs and the gap between the two.
“This is an example of the right people getting together at the right time to do the right thing… We were really looking at a win, win, win situation.”
Federal grants and the in-kind match provided by Tamarack enable the system to provide free transportation – at least for the immediate future – among the four communities and Tamarack. A Cascade resident has the option of five morning departure and three afternoon departure times with stops in Donnelly, Lake Fork and two McCall destinations.
The same schedule works in reverse, beginning at McCall City Hall and arriving at Harpo’s gas station and convenience store in Cascade. Valley County Connections provides four daily trips from Donnelly to Tamarack, and three trips from Tamarack to Donnelly.
Funding for the intra-city service is provided by a Federal Transit Administration rural transportation grant through the Idaho Transportation Department to McCall Transit (operated by Treasure Valley Transit – TVT) and the local match from Tamarack and TVT.
“We expect that Valley County Connections will be held up as an example of how private and public partnerships should work together to capture and leverage federal grants for developing rural transit systems," said ITD’s Cheri Elms.
Partners assembled Wednesday at the Ashley Inn in Cascade to formally introduce the new service.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this service to our growing population and those who visit the area,” said Terri Lindenberg of McCall Transit. “It is a credit to our partners at Tamarack and those agencies that supported our efforts, like the Idaho Transportation Department and the Valley Adams Planning Partnership, that this free service is up and running to connect our communities and increase the ease of access.”
“As our region gains more recognition as a prime national destination, having a service like this is imperative to serve those visitors and citizens of Valley County who live, work and play along the Highway 55 corridor,” added Jim Spenst, Tamarack’s vice president of operations.