TWIN FALLS, Idaho – The city of Twin Falls is working on implementing a microtransit system that could be operational as early as April 2023.
This system would be a ride-sharing service similar to Uber and Lyft where you can schedule rides, and it will be specific to the town of Twin Falls. Recently, the city surpassed the 50,000-resident mark, which by law requires a city to provide something for its residents to use in transit.
A bus system was considered as an option, but would be cost neutral in Magic Valley. “The reality is that something like that just won’t work in Twin Falls. To create the number of routes we would need and the frequency of routes, the cost would be incredibly prohibitive,” said Mandi Thompson, assistant to the city manager.
The city instead opted for a ride-sharing system similar to what Idaho Falls has implemented. Their micro-transit system averages nearly 6,000 trips per month, and soon Twin Falls could offer a similar service.
“We solve the problem of people who depend on public transport. That’s people who also don’t have their own transportation because they can’t drive anymore, maybe they’re older and they’re trying to age in place, there’s our population of disabled residents, there are people who don’t have cars,” Thompson said .
A large group that can benefit from the transit system is the elderly. Currently, only one transit system in Twin Falls helps the older community get to and from needed services. Interlink Volunteer Caregivers (IVC) took over many of the users of the recent Trans4 transit system, which ceased operations in September.
Now IVC is struggling to keep up with high demand and has to refuse service to people with disabilities due to a lack of volunteers. “We average between 285 and 300 requests per month just for transportation,” said Jeanette Roe, executive director of IVC.
This surge in demand is prioritizing certain patients who need more important transportation to things like dialysis and cancer treatment, while other needs are being pushed down their treatment list.
“Food is important but it’s very low on the list and we have to work those in and you don’t have a specific time to do that but these are all things that really matter because if you can’t get those Things, you won’t be able to stay home for long,” Roe said.
More information on the upcoming transit system can be found here.