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April 30, 2024

Committee Passes Bill to Improve Public Transit, Meet Housing and Climate Goals

DENVER, CO - The House Transportation, Housing & Local Government Committee today passed legislation to better align the Regional Transportation District (RTD) with initiatives to address housing and climate issues. The legislation would also increase accountability, improve coordination between RTD and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), and create a strategic 10-year plan to improve ridership.

HB24-1447 would work alongside a newly revealed legislative package to boost and stabilize funding for transit agencies across the state, including RTD. This significant investment to expand and improve access to transit would help mitigate the negative impacts of oil and gas operations through a fee on production.

“Increasing ridership on RTD services is not only crucial in getting Coloradans to their workplaces, but it also takes more cars off the road so we can reduce air pollution and reach our climate goals,” said Rep. William Lindstedt, D-Broomfield. “With new funding soon flowing to increase transit options and boost reliability, we must ensure RTD is set up for success. By reimagining our existing transit systems, we can offer Coloradans the services our communities need to help us meet our housing, workforce and climate goals.”

“The Front Range has seen rapid population growth in recent years, crowding our roadways and creating the demand for organized and reliable mass transit systems,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “Coloradans deserve transportation options that they can rely on. A newly introduced legislative package brought together many voices in our state including environmentalists, transit advocates and oil and gas operators which will make significant investments in our transit system. With the new transit revenues and this RTD reform bill, we will drastically boost funding for public transit, increase ridership accessibility and services, and improve the reliability of our transit systems so Coloradans can feel confident getting where they need to go.”

HB24-1447, which passed committee by a vote of 8-3, requires the RTD Board of Directors to create a 10-year strategic plan that outlines the RTD's plans to improve ridership, support regional and state climate, housing and transportation goals, and identify potential new funding opportunities.

To best serve RTD customers, this bill directs the Transportation Legislation Review Committee to create an interim subcommittee to collaborate with community members and make recommendations including:

  • The ideal size of the RTD Board of Directors

  • Consideration for how many directors should be elected versus appointed and the appointing authority

  • Director pay as well as duties and responsibilities of board members

  • How to ensure equitable representation on the board

The subcommittee would be a diverse group of 19 people including lawmakers, appointees from local government, transit-dependent communities, the disability community, current RTD directors, and a leader from a disproportionately impacted community, among others. 

To improve coordination between RTD and its metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), the bill requires RTD to: 

  • Submit its proposed fixed-route transit service plans to DRCOG

  • Coordinate with DRCOG regarding the implementation of these routes,

  • Ensure that the transit provider's service decisions are consistent with DRCOG's regional transportation plan

  • Coordinate transit and land use decisions to ensure that transit services will be provided to new and existing transit-oriented communities

Under the bill, RTD would be required to create three public accountability dashboards and create, maintain, and regularly update a website containing information about RTD's financial plan as well as route ridership and reliability of services.

Yesterday, Colorado Democrats alongside a broad coalition of major environmental non-governmental organizations announced an agreement with large operators in Colorado’s oil and gas industry which supports funding for public transit while cutting back on harmful pollution. 

The legislative package would impose a new production fee on oil and gas operators. 80 percent of the fee revenue would go toward local transit agencies and public transit projects across the state. This new fee is expected to generate an average of $138 million annually. 

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