October 26, 2011
The days of big buses providing public transportation in Colorado Springs may be nearing their end.
Mayor Steve Bach says the citymust look at alternatives to delivering public transportation.
One idea, for example, would be to provide transit users vouchers for cab fare.
“That may sound goofy, but other cities are doing that, finding that they can save money and actually deliver better service in some cases,” Bach told about 245 people Wednesday during the Downtown Partnership’s 14th Annual Mayor’s Breakfast.
“We need to be willing to push the envelope,” Bach said.
The city needs to think about transit differently, the mayor said.
“I think we have to step back and take a look at how we deliver transit to people in need,” Bach said in an interview with The Gazette.
“We need to understand where they are, where they need to go and when they need to go and compare that to our current system,” he said.
Bach said he suspects a review will find that there are a lot of gaps in public transportation.
“People can’t get to the doctor, can’t get to work. (But) rather than simply throwing more money at that – and by that I mean investing more money in these big buses and extending hours on existing routes – I think we have to look at a number of alternatives, including smaller buses, potentially partnering with nonprofits who have van pools that they don’t use full time that we could perhaps utilize,” he said.
Bach said he also wants to talk to car dealers about the possibility that they would let the city use their courtesy shuttles on Sundays.
“We pay for the driver and the maintenance and gas and the insurance,” he said.
Bach said he is “serious” about testing out cabs to shuttle people around.
“Other cities have done that and have found that, in some cases, it’s less expensive to provide somebody with cab fare than it is to buy more big buses,” he said.
“We need to be looking at every possible alternative in order to increase service, improve service on a limited budget,” he said.
Under the mayor’s proposed 2012 budget, the city would offer the same level of bus service next year as it did this year.