CoPIRG Lays Out 21st Century Transportation Vision for Colorado

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Denver – High speed rail along the Front Range, bus rapid transit on the Western Slope and flexible, fixed –route bus services in rural cities like Sterling were some of the projects highlighted in a new report by the consumer advocacy group CoPIRG that unveiled their statewide transit vision today.

According CoPIRG’s report, Colorado’s Transportation Crossroads, the state’s transportation infrastructure will be unable to move people and goods efficiently without these good public transit projects that expand transit options for Coloradans.

“Colorado is a great place to live but unfortunately, our car-centered transportation network will not be able to handle the projected millions more who will be living here in the next 20-30 years,” said the Director of CoPIRG, Danny Katz. “Our roads are already choked with traffic that steals too much time from families and businesses and forces us to spend more money at the gas pump.”

The report unveiled priority transit projects that CoPIRG argues are critical for reducing traffic, shrinking oil dependency, improving air quality and saving consumers money at the gas pump. Some of the highlighted projects included:

  • High speed rail along the Front Range and along I-70
  • Completion of Denver’s FasTracks light-rail and bus rapid system
  • Increasing regional rail or bus service in the North Front Range connecting Loveland, Greeley and Fort Collins
  • Reversing service cuts in Colorado Springs and adding fast regional service
  • Completing bus rapid transit on the Western Slope’s Highway 82, the busiest rural highway in the state
  • Improving bus service in smaller communities similar to services being provided in the Northeast corner of Colorado around Sterling.

“Coloradans have voted with their feet over the last ten years and are riding transit in record numbers,” said Katz. “So we need to continue to expand transit options.”

According to CoPIRG, passenger miles traveled via transit in Denver has doubled between 1998 and 2008, Colorado Springs saw a record 3.8 million transit trips in 2008 and in the first six months of 2008, residents in the six county area around Sterling took 55,000 trips on their County Express service.

In order to make a 21st century transit system a reality CoPIRG recommends the state lay out a clear vision for transit that integrates cities and regions, create a dedicated and stable source of funding and adopt policies that support transit such as encouraging walkable, mixed-use development. 

“Transit agencies are too dependent on sales tax revenue which makes them vulnerable to budget shortfalls during economic downturns which is the time when service demand is highest,” said Katz. “As the economy recovers, we need to invest now in a 21st century transportation system that can meet the needs of the future. These investments will be good for economic recovery because they create jobs now and make sure the cost of future traffic congestion or high oil prices will not constrain Colorado’s economy.”