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May 26, 2022

SIGNED! Bill to Provide Free Transit Services During Ozone Season, Improve Air Quality Becomes Law

DENVER, CO - Governor Jared Polis today signed into law legislation that will create the Ozone Season Transit Grant Program to provide grants to the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and transit associations that offer free transit rides during ozone season which will save Coloradans money on transportation and improve Colorado’s air quality.

SB22-180 is championed by Senators Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, and Representatives Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and Matt Gray, D-Broomfield.

“Last summer Colorado had the worst air quality in the world, and we are taking immediate action to address it,” said Winter. “This new law will reduce local air pollution by offering free transit rides during peak ozone season, encourage transit ridership, and help us further our climate goals while giving Colorado families cleaner, healthier air to breathe.”

“Denverites face some of the worst air quality in the world during the ozone season,” said Bacon. "Our law will help improve air quality by making public transit including buses, trains and the light rail free during peak ozone season, typically experienced in Colorado during the summer months. The goal is to incentivize Coloradans to use the public transit system, which will cut down on harmful emissions and help clean up our air while also supporting communities. This will increase access to transit and save riders money, as well.”

“The top emitter of carbon is our transportation sector, and a key way to address it is by getting more folks to utilize our transit system,” Hinrichsen said. “This new law will increase access to public transportation while reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted during peak ozone season – an important step we must take to build a healthier Colorado for all and move our state forward."

“Reducing vehicle emissions will help improve Colorado’s air quality,” said Gray. “This law increases multimodal transportation options and incentivizes ridership on our transit system in order to cut down on harmful emissions during the summer months. Together, we are improving the air we breathe to build a healthier Colorado for all.”

SB22-180 invests $30 million into a transit services pilot project in the Department of Transportation to increase ridership on state-run transit services, reduce vehicle miles traveled, and reduce ground-level ozone. The top emitter of carbon pollution in Colorado is the transportation sector which includes personal vehicles. Free transit has increased transit use and can help rebuild ridership. The law allocates $28 million to provide grants to RTD and other transit agencies to offer 30 days of free transit during ozone season.

The law also invests $10 million in the successful Main Street Revitalization Grant Program to fund projects that increase the use of transit and create better pathways for bikers and pedestrians.

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