Colorado Proposal Would Fund Free Summer Transit

The state is weighing a plan to offer free transit rides during ozone-heavy months in an effort to improve the state's air quality.

2 minute read

March 30, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Denver Regional Transit

Denver's RTD system operates 11 rail lines in the region. | jenlo8 / Shutterstock

A bill proposed in the Colorado state legislature would allocate funding for free transit rides as an effort to curb air pollution in the state and encourage more public transit ridership, writes Sam Brasch for Colorado Public Radio. State Senator Faith Winter (D) said "One of the ways that need to address that pollution is to increase transit ridership, which is a challenge coming out of the pandemic."

Brasch writes that "If the proposed legislation passes, the Colorado Energy Office would oversee a new grant program to help eliminate fares during the summer ozone season, which lasts from June 1 through Aug. 31. It provides enough funding to award $11 million per year to metro Denver's Regional Transportation District and $3 million per year to all other local transit associations."

The proposal received some pushback from the Regional Transportation District (RTD), the Denver-area transit agency. "During negations [sic] on the bill, [Marta Sipeki, RTD’s interim assistant general manager of communications], said RTD leaders pushed for a 'more cautious, incremental approach' to free transit because the agency has struggled to hire enough drivers and handle a surge in crime, drug use and violence at some of its facilities."

As a result, if the legislation passes, the agency will start by offering free rides during the month of August rather than the entire summer over the next two years.

Monday, March 28, 2022 in Colorado Public Radio

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