Boise’s safety, affordability, and burgeoning tech and creative scenes make it attractive to young families and individuals, according to Livability.
But for all its appeal, Boise has one major drawback that might make some big-city dwellers think twice about moving there: Its public transportation is severely lacking.
Boise’s buses come just once every 30 minutes, stop running after 7 p.m., and there’s no light rail or metro system
The Boise metro area has 25 bus routes but most buses come just every 30 minutes, at best, and stop running after about 7 p.m. Boise once had a passenger railway that connected it to nearby cities such as Caldwell, Nampa, and Meridian, but it hasn’t been in service since 1928. Downtown, I spotted several e-scooters from companies like Bird and Lime, but unless you live and work downtown, you’re probably not using those to commute to work.
During my stay in Boise, I stayed at a riverfront hotel northwest of downtown. To get downtown from my hotel, it was a 34-minute walk along the river — or a 32-minute bus ride. If I took the bus, I’d only save two minutes of travel time, I’d still have to walk more than 20 minutes to and from the stops, and I’d have to make sure to get to the stop at the exact right time or risk having to wait half an hour for the next bus.
As a city-dwelling millennial myself, I’m thrilled that I have no need to drive in New York City thanks to the comprehensive subway and bus system that runs 24 hours a day. So while Boise may seem like an ideal place to relocate for millennials fed up with stressful and expensive big city life, they may find themselves missing San Francisco’s extensive network of light rail trains, buses, and streetcars, or Seattle’s efficient bus system.
Many longtime Boise residents, however, don’t care about their city’s attractiveness to millennials from California and Washington — they’d simply like people to stop moving there altogether.
While those migrating from cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle may find Boise to be a cheap place to live, the city’s growth hasn’t been as friendly to some longtime residents, who struggle not only with limited public transportation but also fast-growing living costs.
Lauren McLean, Boise’s newly elected mayor, told me it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to buy a home and live in Boise “because of the increased cost of living, the lack of good transportation that moves people from home to work, and lack of houses whose prices are actually in line with our wages here.”