ITD employee named Commuteride Rider of the Year

Commuting to Boise from the western side of the Treasure Valley can be physically and emotionally taxing.

  • Congestion
  • Ill-tempered and impatient drivers
  • Hazardous roads
  • Construction zones

But ITD’s Dave Mathson, who works in technical support for Enterprise Technology Services, isn’t bothered much by the daily round trip of about 56 miles. On most days, he relaxes and engages 8-10 others in casual conversation.

Mathson is one of about 860 individuals who takes advantage of Ada County Highway District’s Commuteride vans. Earlier this month, he was named Commuteride Rider of the Year for 2010.

His commute used to be a lot shorter. For 15 years he used his own vehicle to drive from the Sand Hollow area to his job at MPC computers in Caldwell. After the computer manufacturer ceased operations, Mathson landed a job with ITD’s technical support.

Today, he drives his four-wheel drive Chevrolet pickup to the Elks Lodge in Caldwell where he catches a Commuteride van for the last half of his trip to ITD Headquarters. He estimates the gas savings to be about $40 per month, but that’s only part of the reason he uses the commuter van.

It saves additional wear on his pickup, cuts operating expenses and, perhaps most important, removes an additional vehicle from the highway, resulting in less congestion and ultimately improved air quality.

He pays about $120 per month for the privilege.

Mathson usually leaves home at about 6:10 a.m., arrives at the vanpool site in Caldwell about 15 minutes later, leaves Caldwell at 6:30 a.m. and arrives at ITD between 7:10 a.m. and 7:20 a.m. En route, the van stops at the Commuteride office and the Local Highway Technical Assistant Council office before landing in the Headquarters parking lot.

The reverse commute begins at 4:30 p.m. and puts Mathson home by about 5:30 p.m.

The van transports about 10 people, if everyone rides on the same day. Of the riders, six are ITD employees, two are from Commuteride, one is a schoolteacher and another is an LHTAC employee.

Cathy Smith, who works in Administrative Services at Headquarters, has served as the route’s primary driver for many years. She nominated Mathson for the rider award, one of two presented annually. The other award is for Driver of the Year, which Cathy won several years ago. She and Mathson are the only two ITD employees to win an award, although many riders receive rewards at the annual banquet.

Mathson received a $50 gift certificate and a watch for Rider of the Year distinction. He also got a canvas travel bag for service as a backup driver and a coffee mug for a three-year unblemished personal driving record.

Commuteride, a division of the Ada County Highway District, operates 87 vans in southwest Idaho, including service to Elmore and Canyon counties, and riders from Ontario, Ore. The service is the oldest of its kind in the country, beginning in 1976. Last year its vans logged nearly 1.5 million miles.

For information about joining the vanpool, call 345-7665.

Published 12-23-2010