City of Colorado Springs / Transit Service / Transit Links / Future of Regional Transit / Project Overview/Background

Project Overview/Background

 

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March 4 Steering Committee Meeting


 

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MMT is currently the only provider of fixed-route bus service in the Pikes Peak region.  In addition to bus routes within the City of Colorado Springs, MMT provides service to Manitou Springs, the City of Fountain, and to parts of El Paso County.  In addition, MMT offers FrontRange Express (FREX) commuter bus service between Colorado Springs and Denver and Ute Pass Express commuter bus service to the communities along Highway 24.

 

 

 

 

MMT also provides "Metro Mobility," Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit services to disabled citizens who cannot use the fixed-route services.

Additional services include limited express bus service, commuter vanpooling, automated carpool matching and other services.

Click for Study Brochure

Transit System Governance and Funding

Mountain Metropolitan Transit currently has jurisdiction to serve a growing regional population of more than 600,000 residents but only serves about one-third of that due to funding constraints and budget cuts.  In Colorado Springs, most of the municipal public transit operating budget is funded with regional sales tax funds, yet MMT planning and operations are governed and administered by Colorado Springs City Council.

Role of the PPRTA

The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) was established in late 2004 by the voters of unincorporated El Paso County, the Cities of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, and the Town of Green Mountain Falls. The citizens gave the PPRTA the authority to levy a 1.0% sales and use tax to be used for transportation and transit improvements according to the following formula:

  • 0.55% for specific capital projects
  • 0.35% for roadway maintenance projects
  • 0.10% for transit improvements

PPRTA revenues directly support the MMT bus service through the one-tenth of one percent sales tax dedicated for transit. However, the PPRTA does not play an active role in the day-to-day operations of transit.  MMT continues to oversee all the activities and operations of the transit and paratransit systems and rideshare programs, including the development and implementation of all short-and long-range transit plans.

See http://www.pikespeakrta.com/index.html for more information.


Impact of budget cuts

Municipalities and counties throughout the Pikes Peak region share the need for increased mobility services even as budget cuts have forced MMT to eliminate evening and weekend service by cutting more than 100,000 revenue hours.  Over the past two years, the Colorado Springs City Council has significantly reduced the funding it allocates to MMT for transit operations. The general fund allocation has been reduced from $11.9 million in 2008 to $2.6 million in 2010. As a result, the amount of service MMT provides (as measured by "revenue hours," or the total amount of time MMT's buses are operating and serving passengers) has been cut nearly in half. MMT provided 3.8 million one-way public transit trips in 2008, and is anticipated to provide 2.6 million one-way trips in 2010 with significantly reduced service.  Service reduction has been achieved by shortening routes, reducing the frequency of service on routes, and eliminating weekend, early morning, and late evening service.

 

 

To help maintain as much service as possible, MMT staff significantly reduced expenses, increased revenues and pursued all available funding options with limited results.  Additionally, the City's current budget situation means MMT funding will remain erratic, and the impacts of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) restrictions provide no assurance that funding will recover any time soon.

While this scenario isn't unique to Colorado Springs and the surrounding area, many metropolitan areas in the United States have responded to reduced operating budgets by delivering public transit service through regional rather than municipal transit systems.

The need for regional public transit

Current public transit customers are primarily traditional transit riders, which include those "at risk" and dependent on public transit for mobility, job access and human services. The current need exceeds the capabilities of the original municipal/city system and exceeds the ability of the existing governance and funding structure to effectively meet the growing need.

A sustainable regional public transit system requires a higher level of service that addresses:

·         Growing inter-jurisdictional trips

·         Traffic congestion mitigation

·         Air quality attainment goals

·         Economic development and job retention

·         Changing demographics and human service requirements

 

Recent studies conclude the need for public transit services in the Pikes Peak region have grown. Those study findings include:

 

·         Sustainable Funding Committee Plan, August 2009

o        "The creation of a Transit Authority with a dedicated funding source provides a more efficient fiscal and budgetary model for both the City, as well as the Pikes Peak region to consider."

·         MMT 2035 Long Range Plan

o        "Establish a sustainable funding mechanism and solid regional decision-making structure for the transit network to promote appropriate and effective transit services throughout the Pikes Peak region."

·         MMT Business Plan, March 2008

o        "Milestone 7: Create a Regional Transit Authority."

 

The Future of Regional Transit Study

The City of Colorado Springs has contracted with AECOM, a nationally-recognized transit consultant, to develop a recommendation for a more solid regional decision-making and funding structure for regional transit. The federal grant used to fund this study can only be used for transit planning, not operations or other municipal public works needs.

The grant program helps communities prepare and position themselves to meet long-term future needs. The Federal Transit Administration supports this study and contributed 80 percent of its funding, while the city contributed the remaining 20 percent of the funding.

Contact Us

Ask a question / comment / provide input on the Future of Regional Transit Study by sending an email directly to info@FutureofRegionalTransit.com.