Public Transit Funding in Danger; Ridership on the Rise

By: Rick Montanez Email
By: Rick Montanez Email

Hundreds of people rallied for support of the public transit system in the Colorado Springs Thursday. A multi-million dollar city budget shortfall may leave some people without a ride around town.

A new study shows public transit ridership in Colorado is up by 8%, according to Environment Colorado.

Many of the riders that showed up to the rally are elderly or handicapped. For rider Tracy Olderbik getting around town is no easy task. But it provides her some freedom. "Its a freedom that, until I got the wheelchair and was able to use the buses, that I had never really known," said Olderbik.

A panel of both city and transit leaders held discussions with the large group of bus riders.
Colorado Springs City Council member Bernie Herpin tells 11 News, a $25 million shortfall in the city budget may mean cutting night and weekend bus routes. "We have to prioritize the things the city has to fund," said Herpin.

The city's major focus right now is not having to lay off any police officers or fire fighters. "Over 50% of our current budget goes to public safety,” Herpin said. “So if you try to leave that as a whole as possible, that doesn't leave you a whole lot of areas to cut."

Coming up in November, voters will have the chance to decide to up taxes. If they do, the city hopes to have enough money to keep transit funds the same as they are this year.

But for riders like Olderbik, if the extra money doesn't come into the city, a cut in routes is a cut in her freedom. "I'll be sitting at home a lot more, doing nothing," said Olderbik.

Another problem the city faces, if the funding doesn't come through and bus routes are cut, it would have to sell the buses that aren't being used. Its part of their federal funding rules. If that happens and the city eventually gets the funding back, it would have to buy the buses back.

City council members will get their first look at the 2010 preliminary budget next week.

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  • by gerald50 Location: colorado springs on Sep 26, 2009 at 09:09 PM
    hey folks .. i thought that we have the metro tax that we pay for right.. that herpin guy dont know what he is talking about there.. metro pays a yr 6million dollars to springs transit.look at b street and south academy. that is a complete mess but where is mr hisey ?and the ppacg in this mess.take over from the county and leave it alone..
  • by jackson90 Location: csprings on Sep 25, 2009 at 07:25 PM
    hi there, well here we go again.. people of csprings. dont u and meee pay for "metro" there..i do. i dont even use the bigg behemoth buses around town , ive asked and asked again the transit services to get little jitney style buses ,nope dont want that they said..ive been turned down and down while we the taxpayers have to have these "cop" to get the olympics just stay here in town.. this county and city have voted in the "metro" tax. that will continue..ask your county comissehes there hisey , clrk , etc.. it burn mee up when this reporter , rick . dont get the whole story !!kktv get your facts right there. quit scaring old and the hadicapped there.the city has enough money there thats an excuse.
  • by A Location: C/S on Sep 25, 2009 at 01:27 PM
    Why do we have to increase taxes for public transportation? Why do I have to pay for that? I don’t even use the bus. I pay for my transportation and I expect others to pay for theirs. How come they don’t pay for my gas or my car? People, wake up!!! This is what happens when everybody is paying for everybody, especially through government -> everybody ends up poor and in the end nobody will have any more money to pay for anybody. I need to move out of city so I won’t have to pay city stupid taxes.
  • by Cheryl Location: Colorado Springs on Sep 24, 2009 at 08:41 PM
    Here's a thought. Put that money you're talking about to widen Woodmen into public transit instead. We keep hearing the city has no money and they keep making threats to cut human services, yet they want to endlessly spend money on things that cannot be afforded at this time. It's ridiculous!
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