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May 16, 2024

SIGNED! Bill to Increase Use of Transit

Legislation extends the popular Ozone Season Free Transit Grant Program and establishes a free transit program for youth

WESTMINSTER, CO – Legislation sponsored by Senator Kevin Priola, D-Henderson, and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Representatives Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs, and Julia Marvin, D-Thornton, to increase the use of transit was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis today.

SB24-032 offers flexible state support for public transit agencies to expand service in a way that works best for their community. Under this new law, transit agencies can apply for funding for either fare-free year-round transit services for youth (ages 19 and younger), or a continuation of the successful Ozone Season Free Transit Grant Program, which funds Colorado’s free transit rides during peak ozone season and was set to expire without further legislative action. 

“During my time in elected office, Colorado has taken leaps and bounds forward when it comes to smart, successful transportation policy,” said Priola. “As I concluded my final year in the General Assembly, I’m proud to have sponsored legislation that will improve upon our past work while continuing to innovate. I’m excited for Senate Bill 32 to streamline a statewide transit system that encourages usage and saves people money.”

“As a multi-modal traveler in a city on the rise, I'm so proud of the progress that Colorado has made in recent years to expand transit options, and to pass this law that will boost and expand our efforts,” said Vigil. “We’re building on our existing zero fare program to cover either zero fare for all riders during the summer months or year-round free transit for Colorado youth. Transportation choice means more freedom and opportunities for Coloradans, less traffic, and cleaner air."

“Making it easier for Coloradans to opt for a bus or train instead of a car is critical to helping us reach our climate goals and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Winter said. “The Ozone Season Grant Program and the Youth Fare Free Transit Grant Program will help lower costs for working families, while the tax credit will help Colorado businesses offer their employees reliable and discounted transportation.”

“During my time as a local elected official, my community expressed a great need for more transit options in the Northern Corridor to get to work, school, and appointments,” said Marvin. “Our law looks to address barriers to public transportation ridership, increase connectivity between local and regional transit agencies, and create more multi-modal travel opportunities for our communities. I know this law will have a significant impact on hardworking Coloradans and will reaffirm our commitment to reaching our air quality goals.”

Finally, the law creates a statewide transit pass exploratory committee within the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to produce a proposal for implementing a statewide transit pass. The committee will be created by October 1, 2024, and offer a proposal by July 1, 2026. The committee members will be appointed by the executive director of CDOT and must include representatives of transit agencies from across the state.

RTD data revealed a significant increase in the use of services, particularly buses within the district, during RTD’s 30-day Zero Fare for Better Air program.

RTD also experienced a 36 percent ridership increase between August 2021 and August 2022 as well as a 21 percent ridership increase between July 2022 and August 2022. There was also a significant increase in ridership in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and mountain communities.

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