Ballot issues 2A and 4A will benefit RFTA, but they aren’t easy choices |

Ballot issues 2A and 4A will benefit RFTA, but they aren’t easy choices

This election, there are a pair of ballot issues affecting how the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will operate in the future.

Mass transit is the present and the future for many commuters in this region. Anytime it can be enhanced, we need to take a hard look at the possibilities.

Ballot Issues 2A and 4A both will ask voters to approve a tax increase with the funds going to improve RFTA’s service in the region.

RFTA depends on taxpayer money through sales tax revenue throughout its district. If these ballot Issues pass it will allow RFTA to issue more than $44 million in bonds that will pay for new equipment and facilities. It will also allow RFTA to apply for matching federal funds.

A yes vote will increase RFTA’s fleet by 15 buses. That would mean additional routes, increased frequency and less-crowded buses.

Increases in taxes are necessary for improvements to occur; however, we need to take a very hard look at raising taxes in this election during a struggling economy.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent supports Ballot Issue 2A, but the editorial board was split on whether to support or not support the districtwide 4A issue.

Ballot Issue 2A is about Silt becoming part of RFTA. A yes vote on 2A will provide funding to maintain and improve the Interstate 70 Grand Hogback bus service.

The importance of this bus route to the western part of the county continues to grow.

Ridership is up 45 percent, and with the current state of gas prices, having a viable mass transit alternative and bus service from Rifle to Aspen for commuters and travelers of all kinds is a tremendous benefit.

A yes vote would mean an increase in sales and use tax to raise funds through a 0.4 percent bump for Silt residents starting Jan. 1.

The benefits of RFTA’s service will continue to increase as our communities in Western Garfield County grow.

The Hogback route’s importance to commuters is substantial, and Silt should be part of RFTA.

That’s why we think a yes vote is necessary for RFTA to continue offering and improving the Hogback service.

For Ballot Issue 4A, Carbondale will be looking at 0.3 percent tax increase, while the rest of the RFTA district would see a 0.4 percent increase. These increases also would take effect on Jan. 1.

In difficult economic times, hard decisions must be made. We do think having a strong mass transit alternative helps provide commuters and other travelers with a cost-saving service. A strong bus service might be even more beneficial during hard economic times. Obviously gas prices will continue to challenge the budgets of residents as well. It can also be argued that money saved from fuel savings will be put back into the economy in other areas; however, the current state of our economy makes this issue a difficult decision.

On the other hand, the service RFTA provides is a great benefit to all residents in the region, whether they ride the bus or not.

A recent RFTA survey stated that 62 percent of district residents took a RFTA bus in the last year. For those who don’t get on the bus, the benefit is less cars on the highways, less traffic congestion and less impact on the environment.

This is where making a difficult choice arises. And this is why the Post Independent editorial board is split on this issue. There are very compelling reasons to support or not support Ballot Issue 4A.

Three or four cents on every $10 isn’t much, but it is still an increase.

RFTA’s importance to our region is profound and ridership continues to grow. In this election, voters must decide if this is the best time to vote for a tax increase.

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