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May 3, 2024

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

Legislation would improve transit system to help reach housing and climate goals

DENVER, CO - The House 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 passed by a vote of 42-22.

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.

“We’re working toward a more interconnected transit system that will help us reach our critical housing and carbon emissions goals,” said Rep. William Lindstedt, D-Broomfield. “This exciting legislation takes a multi-faceted approach to transit reform by increasing transparency and coordination between our transit systems and encouraging longer-term planning coordination. With the help of new funding, we can increase transportation options to cut commuting costs, get Coloradans to their workplace, and reduce air pollution.”

“Coloradans deserve a transit system that gets them where they need to go, and this bill is a big step in delivering a more reliable mass transit system,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “This transit reform bill, in tandem with funding from our new legislative package, will increase connectivity, accessibility and reliability so Coloradans can fully utilize bus and train travel and get more cars off our roads.”

HB24-1447 would require 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

  • Methods 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.

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 to support 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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