Letter: Grant funding insufficient to replace RFTA buses
Although light rail has so far proven to be unaffordable, RFTA is the second-largest transit system in Colorado and the largest rural transit agency in the nation. RFTA is the only rural transit agency to implement a bus rapid transit system featuring fast, fun and frequent service.
RFTA transports over five million passengers per year system-wide and, on an average winter day, removes approximately 10,000 vehicle trips from the region’s roads. In 2017, RFTA’s regional commuter services carried about 2.7 million passengers, 48 percent more than it did in 2010 when ridership declined to its recession-influenced low.
RFTA has 88 aging diesel and compressed natural gas buses, costing $500,000 to $750,000 each. It should replace them every 14 years. State and federal grant funding is insufficient to allow RFTA to replace buses on a timely schedule, much less transition to clean, quiet battery electric buses, which are more expensive.
RFTA owns 34 miles of the Rio Grande corridor and maintains a paved recreational trail that thousands of people enjoy every year. The trail will need to be repaved and the bridge decking will need to be replaced.
For two years, RFTA has been developing its Destination 2040 Plan, designed to improve mobility, protect the environment, reduce automobile congestion, and keep RFTA running strong. In addition to bus replacements, the plan includes service improvements, safer pedestrian crossings, expanded park and rides, trail maintenance, and needed facility upgrades.
Population and traffic are growing. Absent additional dedicated revenue, RFTA will need to cut back service in order to address its capital needs.
For 2018, Ballot question 7A would cost about 22 cents per day for a $500,000 home and about $1.79 per day for a $1 million commercial property. For more information, go to http://www.rfta2040.com .
Dan Blankenship, CEO
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