Message from the Executive Director: Colorado Department of Transportation’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Planning Standards

Audrey DeBarros HeadshotLast month the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced bold new transportation pollution reduction planning standards to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

The proposed standard is one of the several transportation strategies identified in the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which Gov. Jared Polis approved, and is a key requirement established in the 2021 state transportation funding bill, SB 260.

The standard will focus on transportation planning and is the step in the right direction.

Commuting Solutions applauds CDOT’s work and dedication to reducing GHG emissions from our state and region. We are proud that our local and regional leaders care about sustainable transportation as much as we do!

CDOT is collecting input to the proposed standard and will be holding a handful of meetings across the region including in Denver on Sept. 23 at the Swansea Recreation Center.

This is an important component of a plan that was approved to better our air quality and take sustainable actions for our state. I encourage you to read through the standard and comment on it.

We look forward to working with CDOT and our local leaders to ensure that transportation no longer plays an affect on climate change.

Cheers,

Audrey DeBarros, Executive Director

CDOT to Host Public Hearings for Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Standards Rulemaking

Last month, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) proposed new transportation pollution reduction planning standards which will reduce pollutions and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, improve air quality, reduce smog and provide more travel options.

The proposal will shape how state and local governments make plans for future projects to make sure there are more travel options and the infrastructures supports cleaner air.

According to CDOT, the draft standard would require CDOT and the state’s five Metropolitan Planning Organizations to determine the total pollution and GHG emission increase or decrease is expected from future transportation projects and take steps to ensure the GHG emissions do not exceed set reduction amounts.

The proposed standards build on the state’s efforts to expand electric vehicles as part of the state’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap, which Gov. Jared Polis approved.

CDOT is accepting written comments on the draft rule through Oct. 15. All written comments should be submitted to dot_rules@state.co.us before 5 p.m..

CDOT is also holding public hearings on the proposed ruling. On Sept. 23, a hearing is scheduled for Denver in the Swansea Recreation Center, to register visit CDOT online.

Colorado House of Representatives Pass Front Range Passenger Rail District Bill

Earlier this month, the House passed Senate Bill SB 21-238, which would create a Front Range Passenger Rail District. The bill was recently sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ desk for approval.

SB 21-238 will create a Front Range Passenger Rail District. This bill would create a district for planning, designing, developing, financing, constructing, operating and maintaining a passenger rail system, specify the territory, governing structure, powers and duties of the district.

According to the bill, the district is specifically required to work collaboratively with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) to ensure interconnectivity with any passenger rail system operated by or for the RTD and with Amtrak.

The area the district comprises of extends from Wyoming to New Mexico and includes:

  • The entirety of the City and County of Broomfield and City and County of Denver
  • All areas within Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, El Paso, Huerfano, Jefferson, Larimer, Las Animas, Pueblo and Weld Counties within the territory of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO)
  • All areas within Huerfano, Las Animas, and Pueblo counties that are not located within the territory of a MPO and are located within a county precinct that is located wholly or partly within 5 miles of the public right-of-way of interstate highway 25; and
  • All areas within Larimer and Weld counties that are not located within the territory of a MPO and are located within a county precinct that is north of the city of Fort Collins and is located wholly or partly within 5 miles of the public right-of-way of interstate highway 25.

The sponsors of the bill include Senator Leroy Garcia, Senator Rachel Zenziner, Rep. Daneye Esgar and Rep. Matt Gray.

Gov. Jared Polis to sign Colorado Transportation Bill, 21-260

This post has been updated on June 18, 2021 to reflect Gov. Jared Polis signed the transportation bill on June 17. 

Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 21-260, a $5.3 billion transportation bill on Thursday morning, a 10-year plan to build out Colorado’s roads and bridges, create more electric vehicle charging stations,. boost mas transit and mitigate air pollution.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, Speaker Alec Garnett, Senator Faith Winter and Representative Matt Gray introduced the transportation bill, which will drive Colorado’s economic comeback, establish a sustainable funding source to improve roads, invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and expand multimodal and transit options to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

The package will take about $1.5 billion from the state operating budget over the next decade, but it will most rely on new changes including:

  • A road usage fee that would ratchet up annually over 10 years to maximum of 8 cents.
  • 3.5 cents per prearranged ride in a zero-emission vehicle and 7.5 cents for every other vehicle.
  • 6.9 cents for retail deliveries
  • 5.3 cents for each delivery to support a fund to transition government fleets to electric vehicles.
  • Raising the $50 registration fee for electric vehicles with an index that makes EVs equitable to what combustion vehicles pay.
  • Indexing the current $2 fee per day on vehicle rentals to inflation, exempting car-sharing programs.
  • Changing the Statewide Bridge Enterprise to the Statewide Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise, and authorizing its board to impose a fee on diesel and
    retail deliveries.

Fees will kick in starting July 1.

For the first two years, the proposal reduces vehicle registration fees. New fees won’t begin until mid-2022 and will be nominal, costing the average driver about $28 in the first year, and will be spread across all users using the system to bring down costs on people. The fees are estimated to raise $3.8 billion over the next decade.

The bill promotes collaboration between CDOT, the Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Energy Office.

Over the course of the 11-year plan set forth by the bill, nearly $2.8 billion will be generated through new fee revenue and the bill will leverage nearly $1.5 billion in state general fund revenue and stimulus dollars.

Employee Trip Reduction Program Rulemaking Process

The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will discuss the Employee Trip Reduction Program (ETRP) on Thursday and determine whether there will be a rulemaking hearing this summer.

The ETRP is a new rule that is being proposed by two organizations, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) and Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), and was included in Gov. Jared Polis’ Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.

This rule would set goals for large employers to achieve reductions in the number of employees who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes. A program that offers telecommuting, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits air quality, it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture. The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will take the rule under consideration in May 2021, requesting a rulemaking hearing be set for August 2021.

A Message from the Executive Director: May 2021

Earlier this month a new legislative bill was introduced which would be a big benefit to transportation in Colorado!

Senate Bill 21-260 will provide $5.268 billion in transportation funding to fix roads and bridges, improve transit options, meet the state’s climate goals and future proof the state’s transportation system. Commuting Solutions took a position of support for this transformative bill.

The transportation funding bill will save Coloradans money and time spent on the roads, it will create a transportation system that supports the economy and it will establish a sustainable funding source for the transportation system.

The transportation funding bill will save Coloradans money and time spent on the roads, it will create a transportation system that supports the economy and it will establish a sustainable funding source for the transportation system.

Another bill that was recently introduced is Senate Bill 21-238, if approved, would create a Front Range Passenger Rail District. Commuting Solutions voiced approval for this bill, which would create a district for planning, designing, developing, financing, constructing, operating and maintaining a passenger rail system, specify the territory, governing structure, powers and duties of the district.

I want to thank Colorado legislatures for working hard to create such great bills that will bring so many positives to transportation. We look forward to the partnerships across a local, regional and state level.

Cheers,

Audrey DeBarros, Commuting Solution Executive Director

Ways to Celebrate Earth Day 2021

Earth Day 2021 ChallengeWe’re halfway through the month of April, which means it’s almost Earth Day! At Commuting Solutions, we pride ourselves on providing progressive, flexible and sustainable transportation solutions that also reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

To celebrate Earth Day, Commuting Solutions is hosting a virtual challenge!

During the week of April 19-23, leave your car at home and take a bike ride, a walk, telework, carpool or use public transportation!

Anytime you leave the car at home, send us your selfies with the hashtag, #CSEarthDay2021. During the week, Commuting Solutions staff will share their photos to encourage everyone during the challenge!

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Want more ways to celebrate?

Some local jurisdictions are celebrating Earth Day as well!

On April 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the City of Louisville is showing Kiss the Ground, an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals a viable solution to our climate crisis: the soil.

Registration is required and can be done online.

On April 22, the City of Westminster is participating in the Great Global Cleanup. The clean-up can take place between April 22 and April 30. The city will provide supplies and disposal of full trash bags.

The City and County of Broomfield is hosting a week long Community Earth Day Scavenger Hunt! The event will kick off on Saturday, April 17, with the City of Broomfield’s Earth Day celebration at the public library.

Registration is required by April 17 and can be done online.

To register, contact Kristen May at kmay@cityofwestminster.us or call 303.658.2191.

With Commuting Solutions, you can become a part of the Workplace Commute Ambassadors! The program helps employees in the northwest metro region encourage their co-workers to choose sustainable transportation options, such as carpooling, riding transit, bicycling, vanpooling, teleworking and walking.

Learn more about the program by emailing Jillian at jillian@commutingsolutions.org.

Employee Trip Reduction Program Update – March 2021

What is Employee Trip Reduction Program (ETRP)?

The Employee Trip Reduction Program (ETRP) is a new rule that is being proposed by two organizations, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) and Regional Air Quality Council (RACQ), and was included in Governor Polis’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap.

This rule would set goals for large employers to achieve reductions in the number of employees who drive alone, or “single-occupant vehicle” (SOV) employee commutes. A program that offers telecommuting, public transit, ridesharing or other means not only benefits air quality, it can also improve employee wellness, retention and company culture. The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) will take the rule under consideration in May 2021, requesting a rulemaking hearing be set for August 2021.

Why the Need for ETRP?

On a state-wide basis, transportation became the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. The metro Denver/North Front Range region does not currently meet air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For the Front Range corridor, transportation is the largest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and the third-largest source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs,) both contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone pollution. Emission reductions from transportation are key to the region and state meeting its air quality and climate goals.

How You Can Influence ETRP?

The RAQC, local transportation management organizations (TMOs) metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local government entities have been reviewing various models to assist employers in developing ETRP programs. TMOs, like Commuting Solutions, are the leaders of this work for many years and are essential resources when designing a right-sized program for employers.

As a Workplace Commute Ambassadors, we encourage you to contact us to partner with you on developing an ETRP that meets the unique needs of your business and employees.

The RAQC will also continue the stakeholder process and invites interested employers to attend meetings scheduled for:
April 2 from 9:30 a.m. – noon
April 7 from 9:30 a.m. – noon

Additional Information:
APCD Fact Sheet
RAQC Resources

What You Can Do to Celebrate Earth Day

Ride a Bike. Take a Carpool. Ride a Bus.

Save the Earth.

Earth Day is April 22 and a huge topic of conversation recently has been climate change and our worsening air quality. When scientists and experts talk about the environment, its easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the numbers presented and think that there’s no hope. But while there are big changes that need to be made, as individuals we can make a huge impact by making small adjustments in our everyday lives.

Every Trip Counts

One of the Commuting Solutions’ mottos when we talk about commute behavior change is, “Every trip counts.” When people think about changing their commute behavior, they often think of it as an all or nothing deal. They think they either carpool every day or not at all. But changing commute behavior doesn’t have to be changing how commute every day. It’s as simple as committing to commute by bike one day a week throughout the summer or forming a carpool to use every other week with coworkers.

The Environmental Impact of Cars

With Earth Day coming up this month, it’s a good time to think about why these small behavior changes can have such a large impact on our environment and our air quality in the northwest metro region. The average car will emit 6 tons of carbon dioxide every year. Multiply that by the number of residents in our beautiful region and its easy to see how that’s a problem. Transportation for commuting and trucking is responsible for 29 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted in the United States every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Every gallon of gas emits roughly 24 pounds of carbon dioxide between the production of the gas and the smog that comes out of tailpipes. In comparison, one 4-mile bike ride keeps roughly 15 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into our atmosphere. By swapping your car for a bike, you’re already making a huge difference and that’s just one trip!

Small Steps For a Big Change

If you aren’t a cyclist, there are other options that will both reduce your carbon footprint and save you money while doing it! Carpooling is a great option for a sustainable commute option. By forming a carpool, you’re reducing the number of single-occupancy vehicles travelling on our road. If your commute is over 10 miles one way, then another great option is a vanpool. It’s estimated that sharing a ride with one other person will reduce carbon emissions by over 8 pounds! To find a carpool that works for your commute, join the My Way to Go network to find commuters in your area. If you’re interested in joining a vanpool, learn more on the Way to Go website.

To make a difference for our environment, you don’t have to go sell your car (although we wouldn’t say no!). You can just look at your commute and see what small changes you can make for the benefit of our environment. Whether its driving to the nearest bus station and commuting by transit the rest of the way, finding a carpool or committing to bike to work a couple days a week, there is an option that works for your commute! If you need help finding a commute option that works for you, email us at info@commutingsolutions.org and we can help you find your smart commute to start your positive change for the environment this Earth Day.

Join The Conversation!

To learn more about climate change and steps being taken around the world to reduce the impact of transportation on our environment and atmosphere, join us at the Third Sustainable Transportation Summit to hear from regional experts, academics and local elected officials to discuss these issues and more. Register today at: https://cs2019sts.eventbrite.com.