Cheaper bus rides to and from Manitou
RTA money allows elimination of 85-cent zone charge that used to be tacked onto $1.25 fare

       With Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) tax dollars picking up the slack, Springs Transit has ended the zone charge bus riders used to pay for trips to and from Manitou Springs.
       As a result of the May 3 announcement, such riders now pay only the $1.25 fare. The additional zone charge for Manitou riders had been 85 cents per ride. For riders who buy monthly passes, the savings there will be $10, according to Sherre Ritenour, the city's Transit Services Division manager, who brought the zone-elimination idea before Colorado Springs City Council last month
       The zone charge formerly helped the City of Manitou Springs cover the $45,000-per-year cost for Colorado Springs to provide bus service outside its city limits.
       “We're now a regional bus service,” Ritenour said. “If the county's taxpayers are going to tax themselves, it didn't seem reasonable for them to pay zone fares.”
       The lone regional exception is the City of Fountain, which opted not to join the RTA. Its residents do not pay the 1-percent RTA sales tax, nor is it receiving any of the RTA benefits, which include new transportation projects, maintenance and transit.
       The Westside-Manitou impact will be to Route 11M, which runs on the hour along Colorado/ Manitou Avenue between the downtown terminal and Manitou Springs. The number of annual rider trips between the zones has been about 32,000, according to Larry Tenenholz, general manager of Springs Transit.
       The 11 route (11U), alternates on the half-hour with 11M. 11U goes to the Uintah Gardens-Mesa Road area instead of Manitou. Counting all the ridership on both these routes, there are about 225,000 trips a year, Tenenholz said. He added that “the 11 route” is among the top third of Springs Transit bus routes in terms of ridership.
       Manitou Springs Mayor Marcy Morrison and Colorado Springs City Council member Jerry Heimlicher - both of whom are also RTA board members - expressed pleasure at the zone-fare elimination news.
       “I think it's wonderful,” Morrison said. “I hope that by reducing fares, the public will respond in turn and be able to use the bus system more frequently.”
       “It's definitely a positive,” said Heimlicher, whose district includes the Westside. “The key thing is not just to improve the system for existing riders, but to encourage more people to use it.”
       Other Route 11M rider benefits are also on the way. In addition to a previously announced Sunday and (possible) Saturday service system-wide, Ritenour said at the April 29 RTA board meeting that, starting in August, the route to and from Manitou will be increased to twice an hour during peak times.

Westside Pioneer article