With Governor’s signature, 2024 became the year of transit

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DENVER – Gov.Jared Polis signed three transit bills into law that put Colorado on a path to significantly expand bus and train options across the state. Combined, the bills will invest $170 million per year of new money to jumpstart Front Range passenger rail and expand local bus routes and frequency, among other things

The new bills also focus dollars on programs to eliminate fares for young people and for all transit users during high-ozone months in the summer and ensure Colorado’s Transportation Investment Office funds greenhouse gas-reducing projects like transit.

In response, CoPIRG executive director Danny Katz released the following statement:

“2024 will go down as the year of transit. Taken together these bills jumpstart our bus and train system, making it possible to double transit service in the next decade. 

People should have the freedom to hop on a bus or train that takes them where they want to go, when they want to go, safely and reliably. But for most of us, those options don’t exist. Taken together these bills don’t fund a complete bus and train system but they put us on the path to significantly grow and improve options. 

Being able to hop on a bus or train instead of always having to drive has huge benefits – less air pollution, fewer road fatalities and injuries and more affordable choices. 

We’ve been calling on the state to increase support for transit and this year Governor Polis and the legislature have stepped up in a meaningful way. I applaud them for their action.”

The three transit bills the Governor signed were:

  • SB24-184, which creates a $3 rental car fee to fund statewide rail and bus expansions. Projects that would be eligible include the Front Range Passenger Rail from Pueblo to Fort Collins, passenger rail connecting Denver to Craig via Winter Park and Steamboat Springs and an expansion of Colorado’s Bustang bus system. In addition, the bill spurs more of the dollars raised from Colorado’s managed car lanes to support expansion of a range of travel options.  
  • SB24-230, which creates a fee on oil and gas operations to raise approximately $110 million a year for local and regional transit, with the majority of the dollars going to service improvements and increasing ridership. Some dollars would be available for rail projects as well. 
  • SB24-032, which directs state transit money to fund either a youth or ozone zero-fare program. In the Denver metro area alone, transit ridership jumped 22% (about 1 million additional rides) during the first year of its ozone zero-fare program in 2022.
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