The Summer of Free Transportation

July 13, 2023

Durango Transit is halfway through its second summer of free transit, thanks to funding from Senate Bill 260 and the City of Durango. With an eye to reducing carbon usage over the summer, and removing barriers to transportation, the program so far has been an overwhelming success, with buses being full more often than not. By Hannah Robertson. The story is sponsored by Tafoya, Barrett, and Associates and Serious Texas BBQ

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The iconic Red Trolley trundling up and down Main Street is a staple of Durango with routes out to Mercy Three Springs along Highway 160 and up to Fort Lewis College, Durango Transit provides integral connections in the community, and this summer marks the second summer the Transit is free to use. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Serious Texas Barbecue. I'm Connor Shreve.

And last year Senate Bill 260 was passed at the state level that dedicated a certain amount of funding to kind of try out this free transit concept to see if we could affect some of the climate issues that we're facing and just encourage people to ride transit who maybe haven't given it a try in the past. So that's through the City Bill 260 program created ozone season transit grant program. So that's what we used last year for free fare August and that was so successful we saw about a 30% increase in our ridership over other previous Junes and other years. So this year our city council locally decided that the program was so successful and so important that they dedicated lodges tax revenue to expand the program for the entire summer.

Summertime in Durango often means an increase in car emissions from tourists and travelers. In addition to more crowded and coveted parking, especially downtown, the Transit provides an alternative to driving yourself or alleviating parking woes by parking in less crowded areas and taking the trolley into town.

Durango geographically is not getting any bigger. We're pretty constrained with the river and the mountains and we see a huge increase in the number of cars that come through town the summer. We're a big road trip tourist destination and we can kind of really feel the burn of that on our streets. So if we're able to convince locals to use transit since it's free, I mean that's taking cars off the road that reduce traffic congestion and kind of help with some of those aches and pains of the busy network.

The program has been so successful so far that there is often standing room only on both the 16 and 24 person buses. A massive reduction in the number of cars that might be on the road at any given time. But the program isn't just about keeping cars off the road during the typically busy tourist season.

That's one of the goals of this program is to re remove some of those barriers that people have. And you know, unless you're in a situation where you really need transit then you're not really going to think about getting from A to B. You're going to just take that for granted and you're not going to be as likely to try riding transit not knowing what the routes are like. There's a little bit of an intimidation factor, I think, for a new service like that. So removing just the barrier of paying for it people know they can just hop on and try it out and explore it. I think that is kind of helpful as one element to show people how easy it really is and how convenient it is.

Take advantage of the Durango Transit this summer. Download the TransLoc app from whichever app store you use. It'll help you figure out your route. And if you're still using the transit after August you can buy your pass directly from the app. All route information, fare information and pass options are online at the Durango Transits website. Find more information about this and other stories at Durango Local News. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.


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