Colorado transit agencies provided more than 10 million trips to get Coloradans and visitors to work, medical appointments, shopping, school and other critical destinations in 2010, according to the National Transit Database.
Earlier this month, the Senate Banking Committee passed the Federal Public Transportation Act, which will become part of the larger surface transportation bill. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) sits on the Banking Committee and pioneered a proposal to modify the rural transit formula that will benefit the state’s rural transit agencies. The provision was included in the bill passed by the Banking Committee.
If this modified formula passes both the Senate and the House, it would mean much-needed additional resources for Colorado and more certainty for transit projects across the state.
Colorado funding would increase from approximately $7.7 million in FY2011 to an expected $9.1 million under the new formula. The bill, a two-year authorization, is the longest extension since the last surface transportation bill expired at the end of 2009.
“Finally, Colorado is one step closer to more certainty for transportation project planning and about resources from the federal government,” said Bennet. “This bill will help communities across our state begin or continue work on transit projects and development to help connect Coloradans, east traffic and provide service that meets the needs of Coloradans.”
The current formula takes into account rural population and land area to determine a state’s rural transit funding level each year.
Under this new language, the number of miles traveled on rural transit trips would also become a factor. Colorado provided the most rural transit trips of any state in 2010.
Over 60 transit agencies serve rural Colorado. Communities with transit systems are better able to provide access to employment opportunities, relieve congestion on narrow main streets, and provide seniors and those with disabilities the ability to stay in their own homes.
“Transit in rural Colorado is an essential component of maintaining our economic viability, keeping residents independent, and maintaining our communities’ quality of life,” said Larry Worth, executive director of the Northeastern Colorado Association of Local Governments. “The additional federal dollars will be used to leverage existing state and local resources, so that we can provide more mobility for our citizens.”