The Future of Regional Transit Steering Committee now has another month to work on a public transportation presentation that it is preparing for the Colorado Springs City Council.
This gives the committee more working time and a different council as municipal elections are set for April 5. If none of the city’s numerous mayoral candidates gets at least 50 percent of the votes, there will be a run-off election May 17.
Although Mountain Metro Transit serves people in Colorado Springs and outlying areas from Monument to Fountain and Falcon to Woodland Park, Colorado Springs owns the system. Recent budget shortfalls forced the city to cut service drastically and spurred the push to find transit alternatives.
“I get the feeling that the Colorado Springs City Council is ready to divest itself of transit,” said Manitou Springs Mayor and transit committee chair Marc Snyder at the committee’s Feb. 4 meeting. “My (recent) council presentation met with profound silence on the subject.”
At the meeting, the committee reviewed survey results and grappled with the first of two documents it will present to council in May.
David Kenney of The Kenney Group, which conducted the survey, presented the results, giving the bad news first. He said that even when times are tough, most Coloradans are relatively optimistic. Not this time and not in Colorado Springs. Only 38 percent of respondents thought the city was going in the right direction; 42 percent said it was on the wrong track; and the short-term economic outlook was even worse according to those who filled the survey out.
“The good news,” he said. “is that there isn’t a tax revolt — 45 percent said taxes were about right and only 10 percent thought they were very high.”
When it comes to funding public transportation through taxes, 70 percent agreed. In District 1, which includes the Tri-Lakes area, 71 percent agreed. Most, 95 percent, thought public transportation’s most important role is providing transportation for the elderly, disabled and those unable to drive and 94 percent said it supports the economy and attracts businesses.
There were a number of other positive results that might mean voters would be receptive to raising taxes to pay for public transportation, Kenney said. He then added that surveys are only snapshots and are not good at making predictions.
After the survey review, the committee took a first look at a rough draft of the resolution that could be presented to city council.
First, they decided not to present the document as a resolution, opting instead to present the information as findings, conclusions and recommendations. Several committee members feared that a resolution is too strong and might alienate council before it had a chance to see the information’s merits.
Nearly all agreed on one recommendation — taking transit out of city hands and putting it in the hands of the Pikes Peak Regional Transit Authority.
A number of other recommendations, ranging from adding background information to limiting projections and phasing to only the next few years, will be incorporated into a new draft and presented to the committee at its March 4 meeting. The committee will also tackle the second document needed for the May presentation — the implementation plan.
For more information and to fill out a survey on public transportation, visit www.futureofregionaltransit.com.