Feb. 6, 2018
It is a little known fact that the Boise area once had an electric trolley line running between Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Nampa, Caldwell, and Middleton. The “Interurban” streetcar line was started in 1892 and was backed by private investors. In 1904, as people began to recognize the positive impact that linking communities had on business, use of the line greatly increased.
The first line to be completed headed toward Caldwell via what is now State Street and Highway 44, passing through Star, Eagle, and Middleton. The average fare was five cents within the city and up to $1.15 for those traveling the full length from Boise to Caldwell. Dairies, orchards, and farms utilized the line to move their freight throughout Ada and Canyon counties.
By the late 1920s, however, advancements in the automobile industry made it much more affordable to own a personal car. Since automobile travel was also considerably more convenient, people across the nation began switching to this mode of transportation. Understandably, this led to a downturn in the use of the streetcar, and investors who were no longer getting a return on their investment, began to move their money to other, more popular, travel industries. Without the backing of these private investors, the Boise area trolley line was forced to shut down in 1928.
City officials in today’s government are now looking to bring back a similar form of metro transit to our booming city. But, the convenience of the personal car still stifles Boise residents’ desires to invest in such an endeavor. However, if Boise continues to grow as it has, I imagine we will indeed see a need for a similar metro travel option to return.