Briefs rta: by Katherine Nettles

Bus ridership still breaking records

Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) executive director Scott Truex reported to the board of directors during their May meeting that the RTA bus ridership continues to increase, and the past 12 months have seen consistent, record-breaking ridership numbers each month. The RTA transported more than 41,000 people in March (up 32% from last year), and more than 16,000 in April (up 40% from last year). “May is always the lowest ridership. We had around 11,000 riders last May and we’re expecting maybe 14,000 this year,” he predicted. 

The RTA has also hired a new driver who will live in one of the Lazy K units the RTA has purchased for workforce housing. With the extra help, Truex said, “We’re hoping to go to a schedule of every 30 minutes at night (versus once every hour) next winter.”  

More tax funding potential

Truex advised the board that Colorado’s governor Jared Polis just signed a new law regarding RTA regulations last month. The new law amended the statutes for RTAs across the state, allowing them to collect more sales tax. The rate is now allowable up to 2% where it was formerly 1%. “I’m not suggesting that we do that, but I’m just suggesting that it’s something we should know about for the future and consider in the planning process,” said Truex.

Gunnison says no-go on transportation center 

The City of Gunnison did not support the RTA’s proposed transportation center location near the recreation center within Gunnison city limits, and Truex said with that setback they will not likely be able to complete a transportation center unless other location and zoning constraints within city limits are addressed. He requested that the board authorize him to withdraw their acceptance of federal funds awarded for the project since they will not be able to build in the timeframe they had pledged in the grant. The board passed a resolution unanimously to do so.

Board member Liz Smith said it was an unfortunate misunderstanding with the city in which there was a false impression that the facility would be used for bus storage or other RTA business, when in fact she saw the project as having great potential to serve the community and it had been in process for a long time. 

“From an operating standpoint, the RTA doesn’t need a transport center,” said Truex. “This was really an attempt to provide a facility for the residents of Gunnison to wait for the bus.” He noted that the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte have built their own. “There was a huge misconception as to what this really was, I think,” concluded Truex. 

Time for a new transit plan

Truex suggested to the board that it’s time to update the RTA’s transit development plan, since it has been six or seven years since the previous one was complete, and these generally look at what they want to accomplish in the next five years. “A lot has changed,” he said, and indicated he would like to include a passenger survey to see who is riding the bus and how demographics have changed so the RTA can make sure it serves demographic needs accordingly. “That could help us plan for locating park and ride areas, and even another maintenance facility,” he said, as they will eventually outgrow even their newest facilities. 

Gunnison bus shelters complete

Truex reported that there are new bus shelters installed throughout the city of Gunnison, and the RTA is also installing city trash cans at each shelter that the city of Gunnison will manage.

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