There's a new way to get around downtown Colorado Springs. A free shuttle is now running six days a week---Mondays through Saturdays. And supporters are hoping both tourists and locals will take advantage of the free ride.
"Let's go inside and check it out.” Michael Velez is taking his two kids for a ride on the free shuttle through downtown. He owns a shop on Tejon Street called Velez Unlimited. And he thinks the shuttle is a great idea. "I definitely hope it will help business. It will help bring more people downtown," he says.
Five electric buses are running the routes every 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the time of day. There are 27 stops spaced out about every two blocks up and down Tejon and Cascade Avenues. The buses actually run a loop from Cache la Poudre at Colorado College on the north end to Moreno Street on the south side.
Mayor Lionel Rivera took one of the buses for a spin Tuesday morning. He says the shuttles should help ease the parking problem downtown and increase foot traffic for shops and restaurants. "It gives citizens of Colorado Springs the opportunity to park anywhere they want and ride the free shuttle. It's going to be great."
The mayor also believes the shuttle will boost tourism. "When tourists come, they visit downtown. The shuttle will be something they remember. They'll tell their friends, ‘Come to the Springs! It's great to get around downtown,’" says Mayor Rivera.
This three-year project is costing more than $2 million. It's being funded in large part by a federal grant. The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is also a big supporter.