GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - City Council is set to discuss a possible adjustment in the fare to take the in-city Ride Glenwood bus, following a nearly 60 percent decline in ridership after the new $1-per-ride fare was implemented last spring.
On the table is a recommendation from the city's transportation commission to switch to a $1-per-day fare instead. That would allow riders to board the bus multiple times in a single day for the same fare.
Several other options are also being considered, including a possible $2-per-day fare, which could generate more revenue to offset the cost to run the bus system, according to a city staff report.
Council may also consider allowing senior citizens to ride the bus for free, while continuing to allow free rides for children under age 5 who board with an adult.
The fare system was implemented last April, after Ride Glenwood had operated for several years as a free bus service from the south end of town to West Glenwood. A fare had been in place at different times over the years, however.
The fare was implemented due to declining revenues in the city's sales tax fund, a portion of which goes to support the bus system.
Ride Glenwood costs nearly $1 million per year to operate, with most of the revenues coming from sales taxes and federal grants. The city was awarded another $223,000 federal transportation grant for this year.
However, "With the current economic downturn and cuts in federal grants, there is no guarantee the city will continue to receive this amount for operational funds," assistant public works director Dave Betley indicated in a report for tonight's regular Glenwood Springs City Council meeting.
"Federal funding for transportation is predicted to be reduced by 20 percent this year," he said. "If this is the case, the city would need an amount equivalent to the grant reduction to supply the current level of service that we now provide."
The city had predicted that ridership would drop by about 30-35 percent once the fare was implemented. However, ridership actually declined by about 60 percent during the nine months after the fare went into effect.
"With time, and as the community adjusts to the fare, the city could see continual increases in ridership and fare generation," Betley said. "But the duration of that is not predictable."
The city had also estimated that the new fare would bring in about $200,000 to $250,000 per year to support the bus system.
Currently, however, monthly fare generation is approximately $14,000, or about $168,000 per year as long as ridership stabilizes, Betley said in the report.
"Based on the current economy, it is not possible to estimate the fares generated by the per day fare rates at this time," he said.
Also on tonight's City Council agenda is a continued hearing to consider the 55-unit Silver Sage Preserve subdivision near the intersection of Four Mile Road and Airport Road in south Glenwood. Council first heard the proposal for the 42-acre development on Jan. 3.
The plan calls for 17 multi-family units along Airport Road, and 38 duplexes on the upper part of the property to be accessed off of Four Mile Road near the city fire station. Residents in the neighboring Four Mile Ranch subdivision have objected to the proposal over density and traffic concerns.
The plan also calls for doing away with the city's hillside preservation zoning on the parcel, and replacing it with a customized planned unit development. The hillside area between the two residential neighborhoods would remain undeveloped under the plan.
Today's City Council meeting includes a 5 p.m. work session with the transportation commission to discuss the Highway 82/Grand Avenue Access Control Plan. The discussion will focus on recommendations for the area from 21st Street to the south city limits.
The regular council meeting begins at 7 p.m., and the meeting takes place at Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. Eighth St.