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Key committee keeps two transportation bills on track in the Colorado Senate

Bills would create front range passenger rail district, allow RTD more flexibility to improve transit service
For Immediate Release

DENVER - The Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee moved two important transportation bills forward that will help improve and expand high-quality transit service in the state. 

SB21-238, sponsored by Senate President Garcia and Senator Zenzinger, will create a new Front Range Passenger Rail District that will have tools to take another step forward toward a front range rail system between Pueblo and Fort Collins. By 2045, it is anticipated that the Front Range population will grow to 7 million and this system could provide millions of rides every year.

SB238passed 6-1 and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. CoPIRG applauds the Senators who voted yes including Senators Winter, Donovan, Pettersen, Zenzinger, Hisey, and Coram.

HB21-1186, sponsored by Senator Winter and Senator Bridges, removes a set of state requirements regarding the Regional Transportation District (RTD) that are unnecessary and could be counterproductive to operating a transit system that can transport more people. 

HB1186 passed 6-1 and now heads to the full Senate for one last vote before it lands on the Governor’s desk. CoPIRG applauds the Senators who voted yes including Senators Winter, Donovan, Pettersen, Zenzinger, Hisey and Coram. 

Statement from CoPIRG executive director Danny Katz: 

“For our health, our safety and our children's future, we need fast, frequent, and affordable local and statewide transit systems that provides a real transportation option for everyone.

SB238 is coming at a critical time. With a growing population and renewed interest from the federal government in train service, the corridor that connects Pueblo up to Fort Collins should be a top priority. Transit service along this corridor will be important to move people more efficiently than single-occupant vehicles, reducing air pollution from the transportation sector and giving people more freedom to choose how they travel. 

With a renewed interest on a federal level for passenger rail, now is a good time to give Colorado a chance to compete for federal dollars to bring a front range train to our state as quickly as possible. 

HB1186 is long overdue. More people would travel by transit, reducing pollution, increasing safety and moving people efficiently, but the Regional Transportation District (RTD) needs all the tools in their tool belt to be able to operate a state-of-the-art-transit system that meets the needs of more people. 

This bill removes a set of state requirements that are unnecessary and counterproductive to operating a transit system that can transport more people. We support removing the farebox recovery requirement. This requirement artificially drives up the cost to the rider of using transit and RTD should have the flexibility to set fares that maximize ridership while meeting their annual budget. 

We also support removing limits on what RTD can do with their facilities including charging and managing parking, and providing retail and services on site. Again, RTD should have the ability to manage their facilities in ways that improve the transit experience, which can encourage and support transit ridership. 

I’m glad to see this committee keep these important bills on track." 

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