Statewide Transit Plan gets rolling
Hoping to lay the groundwork for a future integrated system across the state, Colorado Department of Transportation officials launched its first comprehensive transit plan that will attempt to create a complete picture of existing local systems, future needs and gaps in service.
Funding isn’t available to create a complete statewide transit system, so transportation leaders are instead working toward a collaboration among the existing local and regional systems, possibly someday with a CDOT-managed connector operation that would provide links between them.
“That’s where we, as an agency, can fill in a gap where there isn’t any service,” CDOT project manager Tracey MacDonald said. “What if you wanted to get from Breckenridge to Denver? You take the Summit Stage and then maybe you would connect with this commuter bus service that CDOT would operate and that would take you into Denver.”
The transit plan, expected to take up to 18 months to complete, is a first step, intended to be an inventory of existing transit options across the state and an analysis of what else riders need. It will also set out policies backing programs that make transit more available and attractive to travelers and more time-competitive with cars, according to a CDOT statement on the plan.
“It’s really working in each area of the state to look at what each of those systems’ needs are and how that integrates into a whole statewide picture,” MacDonald said. “It’s a new endeavor.”
The process will include extensive local outreach, including the development of regional plans in cooperation with service providers like the Summit Stage as well as the public. In drafting the local and regional plans, transportation officials will hold workshops and meetings with local transit and elected leaders, in addition to a series of open houses in each region.
The plans will address funding and financial needs, a key issue in Summit County with the local transit system facing a $300,000 budget shortfall this year.
The plan is the second step in the creation of a transit and rail element of the State Transportation Plan. In March of last year, officials adopted a Freight and Passenger Rail Plan, which called for investment in a now-under way Advanced Guideway System feasibility study and, depending on the outcome of the study, a high-speed rail between Denver and Eagle County.
CDOT recently determined that a rail system providing service between Jefferson County and the mountain resort communities is technically feasible. An additional analysis to determine whether it is financially possible is ongoing. Public open houses and meetings are slated to begin this summer and continue through early next year.
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