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April 10, 2024

Democrats Unveil Bill to Improve Transit, Meet Housing and Climate Goals

Legislation would improve transit system to help housing, climate goals

DENVER, CO - Colorado Democrats today introduced legislation to better align the Regional Transportation District (RTD) with initiatives to address housing, climate, and workforce issues. The legislation would also increase accountability and improve  coordination between transit systems.

“We all share the goal of an excellent multi-modal transit system that gets all riders to where they need to go,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The improvements in this bill will help professionalize RTD’s governance, provide more accountability and transparency to taxpayers which will  provide the public confidence needed for additional  investments, and give transit agencies across our state more  tools to deliver more convenient and low cost transit service. I thank the bill sponsors for their work to strengthen transit in our state, meet the needs of Coloradans, and help support more housing near transportation hubs while expanding ridership and improving Colorado’s air quality.”

“Colorado Democrats are focused on addressing issues like housing affordability and workforce development, and transit is a critical piece to help make those a reality," said Rep. William Lindstedt, D-Broomfield. “Policies allowing density and transit-oriented housing are most effective when paired with a strong transit system for commuters and travelers. This bill will improve RTD services and reliability and position the transit system to better meet the needs of our residents by professionalizing the board, increasing accountability and better aligning RTD planning with community needs.”

“Coloradans deserve a reliable mass transit system,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood.  “People can’t get to work, find affordable housing, or reduce car miles traveled without a modern and reliable transit system. Our legislation will boost ridership and get Coloradans where they need to go while helping us meet our housing, climate and transit goals.”

HB24-1447 requires the RTD board of directors to create a 10-year strategic plan that outlines the RTD's plans to increase ridership, improve transparency, use district-owned land to prioritize the development of affordable housing and mixed-use, walkable developments, and update parking policies. The plan must support the state's climate, housing, and transportation goals and identify potential funding opportunities that would expand transit and improve equity and efficiencies in the transit system. The bill would also require a study to be conducted regarding the most efficient method of delivering service based on the current and future size of the district, including services for transit-reliant riders.. The RTD Board of Directors would be required to consider the study's findings when they develop their 10-year strategic plan.

Currently, there are 15 RTD directors who serve 4-year terms. To bring additional expertise and experience to the RTD board, beginning January 1, 2025, this bill would create a new board of directors made up of:

  • Five directors who would be elected by voters of the district,

  • Two directors appointed by the Governor who would represent the district at large,

  • The executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) or the director's designee, who would serve as a non-voting member of the board, and

  • Two additional non-voting directors who would represent the district at large and would be appointed by the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

To improve coordination between transit providers and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), the bill requires a transportation provider to:

  • Submit its proposed fixed-route transit service plans to the MPO,

  • Coordinate with the MPO regarding the implementation of these routes,

  • Ensure that the transit provider's service decisions are consistent with the MPO'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, and

  • Acknowledge established transit centers and provide a preference for transit centers when determining transit services and routes.

The bill requires CDOT to establish a bus driver training program to support transit systems statewide, ensure transportation safety, and fill workforce shortages that threaten reliability and often force suspensions of service.

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.

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