Colo. BRT project controls growth, cultivates development

Posted on March 27, 2014 by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor - Also by this author

Kurt Ravenschlag, GM of Transfort, says that the new MAX BRT service, will operate with six North American Bus Industries vehicles.
Kurt Ravenschlag, GM of Transfort, says that the new MAX BRT service, will operate with six North American Bus Industries vehicles.
In addition to improving mobility in the region, Fort Collins, Colo.-based Transfort’s new BRT route, the MAX, will help manage growth and spur economic development.

Slated to open this May, the line is part of a strategy to increase transportation capacity to accommodate higher densities in key corridors, enabling the community to grow upward instead of outward. MAX covers that first corridor, a primary arterial through the community, Kurt Ravenschlag, GM, City of Fort Collins, Transfort, says.  

Throughout the course of construction, MAX has already created hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity in the region.

“We’re already seeing probably 20-plus projects occurring, [including] mixed-use development, residential and retail services and haven’t even begun operations yet,” Ravenschlag says.    

Conceived in the mid-1990s, the project progressed after a few years to the development stage, securing FTA support, as well as gaining other project funding partners, including the state of Colorado and Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins.

The $87 million line is the single largest capital project in Fort Collins, according to Ravenschlag.

MAX will be operated by Transfort, the city’s bus system. Transfort runs about 22 routes and approximately 50 fixed-route, heavy-duty buses and complementary paratransit service.

The fleet is composed of a mix of Gillig and North American Bus Industries vehicles, including the six new BRT buses.

This year the agency has an operating budget of $10.5 million. Next year, that will increase to $15 million due to increased funding from the City, as well as support from funding partners such as CSU; Transfort recently came to a nearly $1 million agreement to increase services to the CSU campus.

MAX is already generating demand from the public for more service frequency, hours of service and coverage because people want more ways to connect to it.

“We’re leveraging MAX to increase transit services in our entire community,” Ravenschlag says. “That’s why we have significant increases in funding from our city to increase services to complement MAX.”

Now, the biggest challenges facing Transfort are keeping up with requests for new services, such as more night service and Sunday service, which it hasn’t provided in the past, and having the rolling stock and staffing to meet the service demand.

“It’s a project that has been long in the works, and we’re very excited to [start operating],” Ravenschlag says.

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