CO: Mountain Metro Transit Wants to Make Improvements, but Funding is an Issue

Aug. 29--The Mountain Metro Transit bus that Rick Orthwein tried to board last week had a lift for his wheelchair, but no place for him to put it.

The problem: The bus' handicap-accessible spaces were already full.

Your views

To fill out a questionnaire aimed at gathering residents' input on improving public transportation services across the Pikes Peak region, visit moving transit-and-specialized- transportation.

"People who are in wheelchairs, they are hesitant to even use the system," Orthwein said.

A meeting on Thursday sought answers to myriad problems -- such as Orthwein's concerns -- facing the Pikes Peak region's public transportation system.

Transit officials and the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments unveiled six areas of need they may address in the coming decades as part of a 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, which remains under development.

Comments from the meeting and an online questionnaire will be used to turn the identified areas of need into specific recommendations that will be released this fall.

Another meeting will follow seeking comment before the recommendations are formally adopted, said Brian Vitulli, planning supervisor for Mountain Metro Transit.

"This is our first chance to bring it to the public and give it to them and see what they think," Vitulli said.

"Are we moving in the right direction?" Vitulli asked. "Are there some themes that we missed -- other directions that we need to look into?"

Increasing the frequency that buses run routes while expanding weekend and evening hours hit at the core of those needs.

Officials floated the idea of replacing hourly wait times with stops every 15 minutes at some routes and every 30 minutes for lesser-used services, a scenario that would greatly reduce the hassle of missed connections or -- as in Orthwein's case -- buses that are full.

Other suggestions included:

- Focusing on the existing service area, rather than expanding the program's current reach.

- Improving connectivity, transfers and hubs.

- Offering new services, such as a route along Union Boulevard and access to Memorial Hospital North.

- Exploring cost and resource sharing for specialized transit services, which includes services for seniors and disabled riders.

- Increasing fixed-route use for specific populations by, for example, increasing training programs and improving routes.

During a question-and-answer session, one person asked if Mountain Metro Transit's meager budget would allow for major changes.

"The best that we can do is be ready for whenever the money becomes available," Vitulli said.


Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @JakobRodgers

Copyright 2014 - The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)