NewsCovering Colorado


City plans bus service expansion as transit money rolls in

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 21:53:39-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in November is bringing good news to Mountain Metropolitan Transit in Colorado Springs. On Wednesday, the Federal Transit Authority announced how much money cities and states will receive as part of the $20 billion funding expansion in the bill.

Colorado Springs will see its federal transit funding increase from $9 million in 2021 to around $11.4 million in 2022, roughly a 26 percent increase.

Transit director Craig Blewitt said the money will help buy more buses to expand service.

"So, as we add new service we're going to need more buses to increase our fleet, as well as having ongoing operations and maintenance costs. And this additional funding will enable us to do that," Blewitt said.

The city's bus fleet is also turning green. A trio of zero-emission all-electric buses will go into service on Earth Day. They were purchased with money the state received in a settlement with Volkswagen over the diesel emissions scandal.

The service expansion should occur seamlessly. Blewitt explained that Mountain Metro regularly meets with the community to make decisions about route adjustments and expansions.

"We have transit plans that we have developed with our citizens here in the community over time, and with those plans, those plans call for both improved service where we already provide service as well as providing service to new areas that have urban density," he said.

The increase in federal funding comes at a time when ridership is growing in the city. Blewitt recognizes changes in the workforce and changes in gas prices as potential causes for the growth.

"As we come out of the pandemic, people are moving more and more, people are going back to work and commuting from home or telecommuting from homeless," he said. "So, as that continues to change, and you're right, I think gas prices are really making a difference and people are starting to look at other options."

The timeliness of the federal funding also helps Mountain Metro with rising inflation. The city is paying higher costs this year for supplies, contracts, and basic costs of doing business.

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