What’s the best way to get around Nampa, Idaho using public transportation? The answer to that question and more are right here.
Public transportation in Nampa, Idaho includes buses, taxis, and airports. The bus system is run by Valley Regional Transit, with fixed-route buses that run through Nampa around the valley, as well as an OnDemand service that can be used to get around within Nampa itself.
Let’s take a comparative look at the fixed route service and the OnDemand service. Then, we’ll look at the best way to pay your fares, as well as what other kinds of transportation you can find in Nampa.
Fixed Route vs OnDemand
In Nampa, the two most important transit services for you to know about are the fixed-route buses and the OnDemand service. The fixed-route buses run in a mostly straight course through Nampa, so they’re only really useful for inter-county commutes. If you only want to get around Nampa, you’re better off using OnDemand.
The only fixed-route bus with stops in Nampa is the Nampa/Meridian Express. This bus can take you as far east as S Broadway Avenue in Boise and as far west as the Happy Day Transit Center.
Unless you have a pass, though, I don’t recommend using this bus to travel within Canyon County, as it charges a universal fare because it goes through both Canyon County and Ada County. The universal fare costs quite a bit more than the local fare, and the difference will rack up quickly if you have to pay for every single ride.
If you do need the Nampa/Meridian Express to commute to Ada County, you will be glad to know that as of October 3, 2022, the route will be updated, changing its course and adding more stops so that it’s more easily accessible to downtown Nampa.
How to Ride Fixed Route
To ride on the fixed route system, the first thing you want to do is to go to the Bus Trip Planner. This is a helpful and intuitive tool for getting from one place to another within the valley. All you have to do is enter your starting location and destination, and it will give you several routes to choose from. If you want to leave later, you can change your departure or arrival time.
If you want to keep track of where the bus is in real-time, you can do that by downloading the Spot app for Android or IOS. By using this app, you can keep an eye on your bus and make sure you’re ready when it approaches. Have your fare ready, and when your bus approaches your stop, signal the driver that you want to get on.
If you want to park your car before riding the bus, you can use the Park & Ride at either the College of Western Idaho or Karcher Mall. These Park & Rides are locations where you can park your car (or bike) for free before catching the bus at the bus stop nearby.
If you rode your bike to the bus stop, you can either lock it up near the bus stop or put it on the bus’s bike rack to bring along with you. Every bus has a rack that holds at least two bikes, but bikes are not allowed inside the bus. Loading your bike is as simple as opening the rack, hefting the bike into place, and securing it. Just make sure to let the driver know when you are bout to board the bus.
Once you’re on the bus, pay attention to when your stop will come up, and pull the yellow cord when your stop is next. If you’re not sure where you need to get off the bus, ask the driver or the people around you, and they can help you.
VRT OnDemand is a service that you can use to get around Nampa and Caldwell. This bus will pick you up at the nearest bus stop and then drop you off at the bus stop closest to your destination. There are lots of stops at major destinations throughout Nampa and Caldwell, so even if it won’t take you exactly where you want to go, it’ll get pretty close.
To use this service, download the VRT OnDemand app on IOS or Android. After it’s set up, book a ride by setting your pickup location and dropoff location. The map will indicate where to meet your ride.
Since OnDemand stays in Canyon County, the fares are the same as the Local fares in Ada County, and the fares work the same way. The same passes are available as well.
Fares and Passes
There are a few ways to pay the fare to ride the bus. This is where you will figure out which is the best for you. First, we’ll look at where you can pay fares, then we’ll look at the passes available, and then we’ll talk about how some people can get discounted rates.
There are four places where you can pay fares: on the bus, on the mobile app, at stations, and at pass retailers. However, only the mobile app can sell you every kind of ticket or pass. At the other places, only certain things are available.
On the bus, you can either pay the fare for a single ride or get an all-day pass. It’s important to note that buses cannot accept debit or credit cards as payment: you have to either use cash or a Stored Value card. If you use cash, try to give exact change, since they can’t give you cash change. Instead, they’ll give you change in the form of stored value cards.
Stations won’t sell tickets for single rides, but they will sell any type of pass, including annual passes.
Other pass retailers can only sell all-day passes or 31-day passes.
If you want to use your mobile device, download the Umo Mobility app, where you can get any ticket or pass for the system (make sure you’re in the VRT system). To show your mobile ticket or pass on the bus, you’ll just open up the QR code and hold it for the scanner to see. The scanner will flash green, and you’ll be good to go!
Tickets vs Passes
If you’re going to use the bus system a lot, you’re going to want to consider getting a bus pass. With enough rides, a pass could save you a lot of money. But which one is right for you?
If you don’t plan on commuting to Ada county very often but you want to use the OnDemand service, getting a local pass is the way to go. Local fares are the same as OnDemand fares, and OnDemand accepts passes as payment for taking from place to place.
For Adult Local fares, an all-day pass can save you at least fifty cents if you take more than one ride that day. A 31-day pass starts saving you money after the 28th ride, and an annual pass saves you money after the 188th ride (compared to the single-ride fare).
Based on that, think about how often you’re going to use the service within the day, month, or year, and use that to figure out which pass to go for. For example, if you ride the bus twice a day, five times a week, for several weeks, the 31-day pass will be better than the all-day pass.
Seniors, youth, and disabled persons pay half the price of the adult fare. VRT also has a program where large groups can get huge discounts on passes. Ask your employer, school, or residential unit about the Regional Pass Program to see if you’re already in a group that’s a part of that program. If not, you may want to see if you can persuade them to join the program and reap the benefits.
Other Transportation Options
VRT provides this paratransit service that can provide curb-to-curb transportation for disabled people and their companions. Book your seat up to 14 days in advance (but before 5 pm the day before you want the ride). ACCESS buses will go up to three-fourths of a mile from fixed-route paths.
Are you tired of dealing with congested traffic on the way to work? Reduce the stress, along with the congestion itself, by finding a vanpool! Treasure Valley’s vanpool option is called Club Red, and you can find the routes here.
Treasure Valley Transit provides non-emergency transportation to medical facilities in Canyon County. It’s a door-to-door service. When reserving your ride, try to give them as much notice as possible, as they need at least 2 days’ notice.
Is the bus too slow for you? There are plenty of taxi services in and around Nampa, and a lot of them have great reviews, with clean cars and respectful drivers. However, you may have to call them ahead of time to schedule a taxi ride.
Do you need to fly somewhere? You don’t need to go all the way to Boise to do so! There are several airports right here in Nampa, including the Nampa Municipal Airport.