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Transportation Gains Momentum

What’s Been Going on with Commuting Solutions

Things are always moving and changing at Commuting Solutions and the last month has been no different. Between hosting our Sustainable Transportation Summit, closely watching the progress of SB-001 up until the end of the Legislative Session and progress on the State Highway 7 study that began earlier this year, it has been a full and busy month.

State Highway 7 Study & State Highway 119 Study Build Momentum

Map of State Highway 7 (Courtesy of RTD)

State Highway 7, connecting Boulder to Brighton via Arapahoe Road, Baseline Road and East 160th Avenue, will be undergoing a Station Area Master Plan (STAMP) study over the next two years following the completion of the 2017 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study. $200K has been awarded to fund the study, which officially began in spring of 2018.

The PEL study determined that there was “both a desire and a need for transit service along the SH 7 corridor in the future” and recommends transit priority and queue jumps at select signalized intersections, along with highway cross sections that included full depth, full width shoulders for bus-on-shoulder operation where feasible.

The results of the PEL grant are congruent with the findings of the City of Boulder’s 2018 East Arapahoe Transportation Plan which also recommends redesigning the streets to accommodate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), High Occupancy Vehicles (HOVs) and new shared technologies.

To advocate and coordinate for the construction of this vital multimodal corridor including BRT and a regional bikeway, local governments and organizations have formed the SH 7 Coalition and Commuting Solutions is proud to be a member of this coalition.

Given the relative affordability of housing and the amount of undeveloped land along this corridor, there is great potential for future growth which will increase the travel demands of SH 7. It is projected that by 2040, without BRT, a Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) trip from Brighton to Boulder on SH 7 will take upwards of 80-90 minutes. With a dedicated BRT lane, that trip would only take 60 minutes.

RTD is hosting public meetings to discuss the progress of the State Highway 119 Study and receive public input. If you were unable to attend the meeting in Longmont yesterday, there will be a second meeting tonight [May 24] in Boulder at the University of Colorado at from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

SB-001 Marks a Big Step for Multimodal Transportation in Colorado

On May 8, at the end of the legislative session, SB-001 was passed by both chambers and is the first major piece of transportation funding legislation since 2009. SB-001 provides for an allocation of funds from the state budget to transportation in 2018 and 2019: $495 million in 2018 and $150 million in 2019. The bill also created a ballot measure to issue up to $2.4 billion in bonds to be voted on by the public in 2019.

This bill also addresses Colorado’s need to invest in a multi-modal future with the creation of a new multi-modal transportation fund that will receive 15% of the new revenue and bond proceeds, which will come out to $96.75 million over the next two years.

SB-001 is a monumental step towards closing the $9 billion gap in transportation funding that exists throughout Colorado and helps to establish Colorado’s interest in creating a multi-modal future for the whole state.

On May 19, the Statewide Transportation Coalition voted to proceed with a .62% sales tax increase initiative for the November ballot to help create funding for statewide transportation projects.

Thank You for a Successful Sustainable Transportation Summit

Commuting Solutions’ Sustainable Transportation Summit took place on May 9 at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center and the event was a smashing success. Over 130 attendees gathered to hear the latest insights on multi-modal transportation trends and innovations from local and regional thought leaders.

We want to thank all our amazing panelists and speakers as well as everybody that attended the event. Our event would not have happened without your support and expertise. If you were able to attend the event, we would appreciate hearing your feedback on the event by taking a quick survey.

 

 

Wrapping It Up

Stay tuned with Commuting Solutions this summer we follow the progress of the state wide ballot initiative and celebrate Bike to Work Day on June 27.

Count Down to the End of the 2018 Legislative Session: Will Multi-Modal Transportation Be Prioritized?

With the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) navigating a $9 billion backlog of projects across the state and the 2018 state legislative session coming to a close on May 9th, the transportation conversation is at a critical stage. Currently, we are eagerly awaiting the results of two bills that could benefit transportation funding.

HB18-1340  Capital Construction Bill

HB18-1340 accompanies the Long Bill and is focused on capital construction project funding. The bill includes one section that would approve a one-time $495 million general fund transfer if SB-001 fails to become law.  We are appreciative of the efforts of House Speaker Crisanta Duran and Rep. Faith Winter to distribute the funding between CDOT, counties and cities, and 15% designated for multi-modal needs.

Bill Status
The bill is before the Joint Budget Committee who is acting as the conference committee on SB18-1340, as the House rejected the Senate amendments.

SB18-001 Fix Colorado Roads Act

SB-001 passed unanimously out of the Senate.  The bill delayed a referred measure for voters to consider transportation bonds using existing state revenue until 2019.  The bill also calls for transferring $500 million from the general fund to the State Highway Fund, and $250 million annually for the next 19 years from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund to pay back the bond initiative.

SB-001 delays a referred transportation bonding measure for voters to consider until 2019, which allows  for a citizen-initiated ballot question in 2018. Currently there are three possible outcomes if this bill passes:

  • If a citizen initiative ballot question in 2018 is successful, then the 2019 referred measure is repealed.
  • If a citizen initiative in 2018 is unsuccessful, then the 2019 referred measure will move forward, asking voters to issue $3.5 million in bonds with a maximum repayment of no more than $5 billion.
  • If both an initiative and referendum fail, then the $250 million will continue to be transferred from the General Fund to the State Highway Fund on an annual basis.

Bill Status
The House has yet to take up SB18-001, so in the meantime, we are advocating with our northwest metro region legislators, asking them to support four principles to advance multi-modal transportation, local share, preserve future managed lane projects and identify new funding to pay back any bonding efforts, which is consistent with the policy agenda of the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions.

Get Involved

To achieve our multi-modal future, it takes leaders from every industry and community to advocate for the needs of the northwest metro region. Engage in the transportation conversation by:

  • Contacting your state legislators to weigh in on the transportation conversation
  • Meet state representatives and transportation partners by attending our Membership Meeting on June 19.

We would like to thank our state legislators for their service during the 2018 state legislative session and encourage community members throughout the northwest metro region to plug into the conversation.

RTD Updates & Regional Impacts

The start of 2018 has been busy for the Regional Transportation District (RTD). Between union contract negotiations and working on connecting the region, there’s a lot to be excited about with RTD.

RTD & Transit Union Reach an Agreement

On March 10, the RTD and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1001 signed a three-year contract providing bus drivers and train engineers pay raises, better benefits and better working conditions designed to recruit and maintain employees.

The contract includes the largest pay increase RTD operators have ever received over the 48-year history of the company. Drivers and train engineers will receive a pay raise of 8% in 2018, increasing the starting hourly wage from $17.59 to $19.40. In addition to pay raises, RTD will also contribute an additional $6.2 million more a year to retirement funds and $1,000 towards individual employee’s health benefits over the course of the contract.

Currently, RTD is understaffed by roughly 140 operators, resulting in bus route inefficiencies throughout the region. By offering competitive benefits and higher wages, RTD is taking an important step to recruit and retain more bus drivers and train engineers.

RTD Hosts Telephone Town Halls

Throughout the end of March and beginning of April, RTD staff and District Directors hosted telephone town halls in each district served by RTD to provide transit updates and answer questions from their constituents.

Recently a staff member from Commuting Solutions participated in the District I Telephone Town Hall, led by RTD District I Director Judy Lubow. The town hall focused on addressing the issues impacting the Lafayette, Longmont and Broomfield communities. The primary issue addressed in the town hall was the unfulfilled promises of the Northwest Rail Line, which now has a projected construction date of 2042. Director Lubow addressed the lack of funding and current efforts to get the line operational sooner. This includes only operating during peak service hours, finding alternative sources of funding or reducing costs. Town Halls for District O, District J and District L also took place with Director Chuck Sisk, Director Larry Hoy and Director Lorraine Anderson for our region. Staff members from Commuting Solutions’ participated in the town halls for District O and District J.

SH 119 Graphic provided courtesy of RTD

In the meantime, RTD will continue to move forward with the State Highway 119 study and eventual implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in this corridor, pending funding availability. BRT differs from a normal RTD service in that there are less stops, enhanced buses to provide ease of entry, dedicated bus lanes, stations, branding, technology improvements and high frequency service.  It is important to note that this project is not a replacement for Northwest Rail but a solution to help alleviate congestion issues until the rail can be completed.

RTD G-Line Rail and A-Line Gets the Green Light

RTD recently received the go-ahead from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to begin the testing and certification of the G-Line, connecting Union Station in Denver to Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Train traffic between these stations will gradually increase during the testing phase.

The CPUC also approved removing the gate attendants from crossings along the G-Line as well as the University of Colorado A-Line since the wireless crossing activation buffer times have been accepted which indicates that the A and G Line crossings are operating correctly.

RTD and local governments are working together to establish quiet zones in the areas around these lines.

Wrapping It Up

Commuting Solutions is excited about these updates and the progress RTD will implement to alleviate congestion in the Northwest Metro Region and to provide mobility choices. We will continue to stay engaged with RTD and will provide more updates as the conversations continue to evolve and mature

 

Top image courtesy of RTD

Building Vibrant Transportation Networks

Ken Hotard is a forty-five-year resident of Boulder, Colorado. He has served as the Government Affairs Director and Senior Vice President for Public Affairs of the Boulder Area Realtor® Association since 1984. Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors from 1991 – 1994. RTD Board Chairman 1993 and 1994. Co-founder and board member of Better Boulder and Boulder Tomorrow. Past Chairman and current Treasurer of Commuting Solutions. Member of the Boulder Chamber’s Community Affairs Council for 18 years, now a fifth term Co-Chair.

 

Transportation is crucial to the prosperity of businesses, real estate and our region. For communities to be a hub of vibrant economic activity they must be connected by complex networks of communication and transportation, infrastructure and services. When these networks operate effectively communities can evolve and prosper. When they do not, economic health and community well-being can be difficult and uncertain.

Nearly all community activities involve some form of travel—by car, foot, bicycle, bus, or train. Time spent in travel is often time away from meaningful work or time with friends and family. So, efficient transportation is fundamental to the quality of life. A higher quality of life will attract and retain workforce talent and home buyers.

Whether you are a business leader or real estate professional, we all have a dog in this fight. Well-designed transportation infrastructure and services improve air quality, bring affordable housing closer to job opportunities, and expand access to key employment centers. Transportation infrastructure and services are a constructive force in building quality communities. It all comes down to choices.

As a Commuting Solutions board member and local business leader, I am encouraging everyone to learn more about Transportation Matters, a region-wide initiative designed to spark critical conversations surrounding the transportation funding gap and provide feedback on the mobility needs of businesses in the northwest metro region.

Because transportation is crucial to businesses and real estate, when key decisions are being made in our communities it is vital that business leaders and real estate professionals are participants. I believe that when it comes to our communities’ quality of life, these issues are too important to sit on the sidelines.  Transportation Matters is your invitation to get in the conversation, take action and shape the future of the communities where you work, live, play and build your dreams.

 

Advocacy Update: 2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 Legislative Session began with the potential of new federal money, discussions regarding allocations of transportation funds included in SB17-267 and continued dialogue surrounding a draft project list and a potential statewide ballot measure. Last month, we shared our efforts with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition to advocate for multi-modal investments in the northwest metro region. The regional and statewide transportation conversation is evolving and maturing every day! At Commuting Solutions, we closely watch every transportation related piece of legislation and wanted to provide an update on a handful of initiatives that we’ve been tracking:

Senate Bill 001 (SB18-001) Transportation Infrastructure Funding

SB18-001 would ask the voters to authorize the issuance of $3.5 billion in transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs), and repeal Senate Bill17-267 which has begun to raise up to $1.88 billion for state transportation projects. It would repay the bonds by allocating 10% of state sales and use tax net revenue for that purpose.

Currently, the bill has passed the Senate Transportation Committee and has since been referred too the Senate Finance Committee for review.

House Bill 1119 (HB18-1119) Highway Building and Maintenance Funding

HB18- 1119 requires the transportation commission to submit a ballot question to the voters November 2018 which, if approved, will require the CDOT Executive Director to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs) in a maximum principal amount of $3.5 billion; repeals SB-267.

Currently the bill has been introduced and is assigned to the Transportation & Energy Committee. The bill is awaiting it’s first committee hearing.

Potential Statewide Ballot Measure

In addition to following legislation, we are also closely participating in the conversation for a potential statewide ballot measure. Currently, CDOT has prepared a draft statewide project list for which we are actively engaged to request equitable inclusion of projects benefiting the northwest metro region.  We anticipate three ballot titles will be submitted on February 20th to allow flexibility while additional polling is conducted.

Federal Infrastructure Plan

As part of President Trump’s State of the Union address, infrastructure was included as a high priority for the White House in his second year. An initial review of the official proposal released earlier this week notices a shift to the funding principles that encourage state, local and private investment by providing incentives for limited federal grants. The proposal would also streamline the environmental review and federal oversight. While Commuting Solutions is still learning more about the plan, we are committed to exploring how the plan will impact the northwest metro region.

Next Steps

As always, Commuting Solutions is actively engaged in advocating for the multi-modal needs of the northwest metro region. If you are interested in engaging in the transportation momentum or additional policy updates, please register for our March 13 Membership Meeting at the 1st BANK Center!

Our Letter to CDOT

We are writing on behalf of Commuting Solutions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit
organization whose mission is to enhance the mobility of commuters in the
northwest metro region today and for the future. Members of Commuting
Solutions include the local governments of Boulder, Boulder County, Longmont,
Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, Broomfield, Westminster and 85 private sector
businesses, chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.

To read our full letter, click here.

CDOT Project List Letter

Transportation Conversations Kick-Off 2018 Legislative Session

“Getting to and from work shouldn’t be the hardest part of Coloradans’ daily routine. We have to repair and improve our overburdened roads and expand our transportation options to keep up with our growing population and economy,”

-Rep. Crisanta Duran, Speaker of the House

 

Rep. KC Becker addresses attendees of the 9th Legislative Breakfast.

At Commuting Solutions, the beginning of the new year also marks new opportunities to advocate for transportation funding in the northwest metro region. Prior to the start of the 2018 Legislative Session, we hosted our 9th Legislative Breakfast where attendees heard first hand from House Majority Leader, Rep. KC Becker as well as House and Senate Committee leadership regarding potential legislation to address the significant statewide funding gap.

The 2018 Legislative Session began with the potential of new federal money, discussions regarding allocations of transportation funds included in SB17-267 and continued dialogue surrounding a draft project list and potential statewide ballot measure.

Convening Leaders

Just one week after the 2018 Legislative Session kicked off, Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition spent the morning at the Capitol meeting with state legislators and advocating for the transportation needs of the northwest metro region. The meetings produced a thoughtful dialogue surrounding the implications of Senate Bill18-001, a bill introduced that would ask the voters to authorize the issuance of $3.5 billion in transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs), and repeal Senate Bill17-267 which has begun to raise up to $1.88 billion for state transportation projects. It would repay the bonds by allocating 10% of state sales and use tax net revenue for that purpose. While we are still learning more about SB18-001, Commuting Solutions is skeptical because in repealing SB18-267 it would prevent the generation of new multimodal revenue that our region stands to benefit from and instead rely on existing state revenue to repay long-term borrowing which the voters may not approve and which may be necessary for other state priorities. Moreover, it would convey a false message that there is not a need for new revenue to solve our transportation needs.

Advocating for the Northwest Metro Region

On the same day that the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition (MCC) met with state legislators in the morning, representatives from Commuting Solutions and the MCC spent the afternoon at CDOT’s Transportation Commission Workshop that discussed the approach for statewide programs and reviewed amended project lists as part of preparation for a potential statewide ballot measure or other new funding sources in 2018. During the meeting, both Commuting Solutions staff and US 36 MCC Representatives provided public comment advocating for projects included in the Northwest Area Mobility Study (NAMS) to remain on the draft project list.

Engage in the Conversation

We are closely following and actively participating in conversations surrounding a potential ballot measure, new funding sources and legislation that could impact the northwest metro region. Whether you work, live or play in the northwest metro region, we encourage everyone to stay engaged in the 2018 transportation momentum. Throughout the legislative session, we are committed to sharing important advocacy alerts, bringing new stakeholders to the table and highlighting easy ways you can advocate for progress in our region.

In the words of Speaker of the House, Rep. Crisanta Duran “Let me be clear: transportation funding is a priority.”

 

Commuting Solutions is Hiring!

Commuting Solutions is seeking an entry-level professional preparing for a career in marketing, community outreach, planning or transportation demand management to join our team!

Position Description:

Commuting Solutions is seeking an entry-level professional preparing for a career in marketing, community outreach, planning, or transportation demand management to join our team as the Marketing & Outreach Assistant. This is a full-time position that reports to the Executive Director. This is an outstanding opportunity for candidates looking for hands-on experience with marketing communications, program management, public policy and Transportation Demand Management.

Areas of Responsibility

Social Media
Draft engaging and compelling social media content for Commuting Solutions’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages
Schedule approved social media content
Implement and track success of social media strategy

Content Creation
Draft content for monthly and quarterly newsletters
Develop blog content
Develop press releases, media alerts and editorial content
Assist with developing additional marketing materials, as needed
Maintain databases

Event Marketing
Assist marketing specialist to implement event marketing campaign
Work with Marketing Communications Specialist to develop new ideas to increase attendance and awareness of Commuting Solutions’ signature events

Outreach
Represent Commuting Solutions at public and employer events in the community
Organize exhibitor materials and supplies
Support the outreach and programs specialist with program materials (e.g. collecting data, creating surveys)
Create commute options content for employers
Assist with customer service for RTD Bike-n-Ride shelters

Administration
Maintains the organization’s employer database, My Way to Go administration
Complete grant reporting and employer outreach tracking reports
Assist the Executive Director, as needed


Job Qualifications

Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications, Journalism or a related field
Excellent organizational, verbal and writing skills
Knowledge of AP Style preferred
Reliable, dependable, flexible and responsive
Knowledge of marketing communications strategies
MS Office Suite proficient
Possess excellent customer service skills
Ability and desire to work independently and as part of a team
Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks
Strong interpersonal skills, good judgment and ability to communicate professionally with diverse audiences
Knowledge of Adobe Create Suites a plus
Position responsibilities could change based upon organizational needs
Available to staff occasional early morning/evening meetings, weekend events, etc.
Must have a valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle for business use (mileage is reimbursed).

Please submit cover letter, salary history, salary requirements, resume and a writing sample to audrey@commutingsolutions.org by February 16, 2018.

Happy Holidays From Commuting Solutions

From the lights in downtown to decorations in our own office, it is hard to resist the holiday spirit in the northwest metro region. At Commuting Solutions, not only do we embrace the festivities of the season, it is also a time for reflection and gratitude. In honor of the holiday season, we wanted to share our gratitude.

Thank you, Commuters!

At Commuting Solutions, we believe that every ride counts. Whether you chose to ride the bus every day or participate in Bike to Work Day every summer, we wanted to say thank you! Your decision to choose a sustainable commute option plays a critical role in reducing traffic congestion and increasing air quality throughout the northwest metro region.

Thank you, Partners!

The innovation and progress to increase commuter options in the region would not be possible without the support, passion and dedication of our partners. Thank you to the organizations that have played a critical role in helping to set the pace for the region. We look forward to our continued partnership for years to come.

Thank you, US 36 Mayors & Commissioners and Board of Directors!

Our gratitude would not be complete without thanking the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition as well as the Commuting Solutions Board of Directors for lighting the way this year. Your leadership is a key ingredient to our advocacy efforts to advance multi-modal transportation investments in the region.

While we are grateful for the progress of 2017, we would be remiss to not share our excitement for 2018. Over the past few months, we’ve been working closely with our partners to bring additional commuter options to the northwest metro region, increase the connectivity of our community and expand our coalition to include more advocates for sustainable transportation.

We’ll be kicking off the new year with a bang and unveiling a new initiative at our 9th Legislative Breakfast on January 9th at the Lionsgate Event Center, Lafayette. Network with elected officials, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition, transportation partners and business leaders during a morning of advocacy prior to the start of the 2018 state legislative session.

We wish everyone happy holidays and leave you with our suggested New Years’ resolution: In 2018, engage in the transportation momentum for the northwest metro region.

 

Picture Credit: Downtown Louisville, Colorado

Connecting Communities: Northwest Rail Progress Update

Whether we are at a community event or town halls, one of the most frequent questions we are asked is surrounding FasTracks and the completion of the Northwest Rail service. From when construction will begin, service offerings and station locations, the Northwest Rail remains on the minds of residents and employees throughout the northwest metro region.

For over the past year, Commuting Solutions has been working closely with the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to evaluate service possibilities for the remaining 38 miles between Westminster and Longmont.  RTD still does not have the fiscal resources to prioritize completion of Northwest Rail for quite some time as defined in its full buildout; however, our local elected officials asked RTD to explore the ridership and costs to construct and operate peak hour service only, as a means of beginning the service with a much simpler implementation plan.

Evaluating Our Options

FasTracks Progress Map

After careful review and consideration of three implementation options, coordination with RTD and local elected officials, we support continued evaluation of an option that would provide three trips from Longmont to Denver in the morning and three trips from Denver to Longmont in the evening. The service would include seven station locations throughout the region including: Boulder, Louisville, Broomfield, Westminster, and Longmont. Current models estimate that this trip would take roughly 67 minutes of travel time one way from Longmont to Denver, and have an average weekday ridership of 1,400 additional passengers.

Commuting Solutions and the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition are interested to explore this option to potentially enable initial commuter rail access sooner rather than later, pending funding availability.

 

Keeping Progress Moving

Earlier this month, the US 36 Mayors & Commissioners Coalition and Commuting Solutions shared a letter of support for RTD to continue the evaluation of this peak service alternative. We also urged RTD to continue conversations with our local government partners and if necessary, request that BNSF provide an estimate of the potential cost to implement Northwest Rail peak hour service on its rail line.

At Commuting Solutions, we know from experience that transportation projects of this scale are transformative and deserve special scrutiny in this time of limited resources.  We want to reassure community members that we are working closely with our partners to keep progress moving forward for RTD FasTracks completion.