Three members of the Regional Transportation District Board of Directors said Wednesday the agency must forge local funding partnerships to produce better service for commuters.
“We (RTD) can’t do micro transit,” Vince Buzek, former Broomfield city council member and current head of the RTD’s executive committee, told a group of local officials. Buzek said RTD’s bus and train system is based on regional routes and not on getting people to and from local neighborhoods and services.
“That first and last mile stuff, we just don’t have the capacity for that really local transit,” Buzek said. “That’s why we need to develop partners with local entities. We have a 2,400 square-mile service area and we can’t possibly cover every square of that service area.”
Buzek and fellow RTD board members Lynn Guissinger and Erik Davidson laid out the challenges facing the agency and recent advances made by RTD during a forum sponsored by Commuting Solutions. The nonprofit seeks local and legislative solutions to ease congestion on Boulder and Broomfield county roads.
Buzek represents District J which serves Westminster, Northglenn and Federal Heights and portions of unincorporated Adams and Jefferson counties. He is running unopposed in the November election.
Davidson represents District I which includes large portions of Longmont, Lafayette and Broomfield. He is also running unopposed.
Guissinger’s District O, covers Boulder, Jamestown, Louisville, Lyons, Nederland and Ward as well as Longmont west of North 95th Street and south of Mountain View Avenue. She is running against Richard O’ Keefe who was invited to Wednesday’s forum but was unable to attend, Audrey DeBarros, executive director of Commuting Solutions, said.
Davidson, who is head of RTD’s Finance and Planning Committee, said RTD is entering a new phase of financial stability. Employee pensions are being “sustainability” funded and many of the agency’s debt services have been put to rest, Davidson said.
The agency now wants to diversify its service options, he said, agreeing with Buzek that micro transit is not something RTD does well but funding partnerships with local governments and transit agencies will further strengthen RTD.
At least 80% of sales taxes support RTD services, he said, which is not financially sustainable.
“RTD is entirely too dependent on sales taxes,” Davidson said. “We need to work with partners to pool resources.”
Guissinger said the agency’s $13 million Fastracks Internal Savings Account — set aside to fund Fastracks projects — is always a continuing issue. Some board members want to tap into the FISA funds to bolster basic service needs, Buzek said.
Guissinger added a $8 million study of the feasibility of implementing a peak period northwest rail system is underway and should be presented in 2023.