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Mountain Express Transit Announces Free Transportation in July and August

Mountain Express Transit Announces Free Transportation in July and August

By Andrew Mylroie, Archuleta County Mountain Express Transit

Zero tariff for better air, we make sure you are there. This is a joint initiative of the state to reduce ground level ozone by making more use of public transport.

Starting July 1, Mountain Express Transit is encouraging community residents and visitors to take public transportation and help keep Colorado’s air clean during the summer months, when air pollution is at its highest.

Mountain Express is offering free rides during the months of July and August on all regular routes. The effort is made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 24-032, the Ozone Season Transit Grant Program in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office.

Mountain Express welcomes people who have never used public transport before, as well as customers who use public transport regularly. They can travel by public transport all summer long and save money on their journey to their destination.

“The pilot program that launched in August 2022 was very successful. Transit systems from across the state participated, ranging from those serving the largest cities, like RTD in Denver, to regional rural systems like SMART in San Miguel County (Telluride area). Mid-sized cities across Colorado, like Greeley, Pueblo and Colorado Springs participated in the program. Smaller communities in Mountain Towns, the Eastern Plains and the Western Slope also took advantage of this great opportunity,” said Ann Rajewski, executive director of the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies. “All agencies that participated increased ridership — ranging from 2 percent to 59 percent. This year, we are expanding the program throughout the summer and expect to increase the number of participating transit agencies.”

In 2023, the Zero Fare program was also successful.

Across Colorado, 16 communities offered free rides to travelers during the months of June through August. In addition to providing free rides, the program also provided funding for a marketing campaign to promote the statewide initiative.

Together, these efforts have resulted in a 2 to 216 percent increase in travel in participating communities.

This year, the program will run for two months, July and August, and 13 communities across Colorado are participating. This three-year campaign is the largest free public transportation initiative in the U.S.

About 85 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation come from daily commuting. By leaving the car at home, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each day, depending on the length of the trip.

The Zero Fare program offers significant additional benefits to the customer.

Travelers experience the following environmental, financial, lifestyle, and community benefits from public transportation.

Cost savings

With the bus you save on car costs, including maintenance and parking, which quickly add up. Not only do you save money on petrol, but you also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle.

According to a recent study by AAA, routine maintenance and repairs on a new car cost an average of $0.09 per mile. If you drive 10,000 miles a year, that’s a total of $900. If you drive 20,000 miles, that number jumps to $1,800 per year.

Gas saving

By traveling by public transportation, customers save extra money in their daily budget.

In addition, public transportation saves the United States an estimated 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline each year, reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Reduction of traffic

When you travel by public transport, cars are kept off the road, reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and ground-level ozone.

Colorado’s population has grown by 39 percent over the past 20 years and is expected to grow by another 30 percent over the next 20 years, significantly increasing traffic in the state. This robust growth makes it essential for commuters to have public transportation options to offset the increased traffic and distances to work.

Reduced stress and increased safety

Public transportation takes away the stress and anxiety of battling daily traffic. Public transportation is one of the safest ways to travel and is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car.

Increased productivity

While traveling on public transportation, you can read, check emails, listen to podcasts, or just sit back and relax.

Improved air quality

Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Public transportation produces 84 percent less CO2 emissions than driving, saving 63 million metric tons per year.

About Mountain Express

Mountain Express is designed to increase mobility options for residents of Archuleta County.

Free service in July and August on fixed routes will help public transit riders save money, reduce stress, enjoy safer rides and increase productivity, while reducing the number of cars on the road and improving Colorado’s air quality.

Mountain Express serves Archuleta County with fixed-route and on-demand public transportation. It also offers paratransit for the elderly and disabled. The fixed-route system serves uptown and downtown Pagosa Springs with 21 scheduled stops served 10 times daily.

Mountain Express also operates weekly service from Pagosa Springs to Durango and from Arboles to Pagosa Springs.

For more information, visit www.ArchuletaCounty.org/681/Transportation-MET.