Removal of some bus stops on Route 3 part of ‘standardization’ proposal; public input requested

       As part of an overall effort to improve efficiency, Mountain Metro Transit is proposing the removal or relocation of nearly a third of the stops on the Westside's Route 3 along Colorado/Manitou Avenue.
       The city-owned transit company has begun taking input on these and other service changes. Three meetings were held June 10 and 11. Comments will continue to be accepted through Tuesday, June 18. The e-mail address is transitinfo@springsgov.com. A phone number is 385-RIDE (7433).
       Pending review of comments received, the changes are to take effect in the fall.
       The concept for Route 3 is called “bus stop standardization.” This is a strategy, used successfully in numerous bus agencies nationwide, in which stops are placed a consistent distance apart (around 1,300 feet), according to Steve Hawkins, a Mountain Metro transit planner. Route 3 and three other stops have been selected to “test the system” in Colorado Springs, he explained at the afternoon June 11 meeting attended by about a dozen citizens at the City Hall downtown.
       The Route 3 changes would be necessary because some of its stops now are closer than the standardized distance.
       Out of 34 current outbound stops (west from the downtown), 5 are proposed for removal and 6 for relocation.
       Inbound Route 3 (east from Manitou) also has 34 current stops. The plan suggests it have 5 removals and 4 relocations.
       None of the changes are in the Manitou Springs part of the avenue.
       Some of the stop relocations are at or near their existing intersections. These changes are for safety or spacing reasons, based on transit information.
       Here are the exact Route 3 stops along Colorado Avenue that are slated for removal or relocation:
       Outbound - Chestnut Street (remove), Eighth Street (relocate at same intersection), 11th Street (remove), 13th Street (relocate to 12th Street), 17th Street (relocate at same intersection), Colbrunn Court (remove), 26th Street (relocate to 25th Street), 28th Street (relocate at same intersection), 31st Street (relocate at same intersection) and Columbia Road (remove).
       Inbound - Columbia Road (remove), 3141 Colorado (remove), 31st Street (relocate at same intersection), 26th Street (remove), 19th Street (relocate at same intersection), 17th Street (relocate at same intersection), 16th Street (remove), 13th Street (remove), 11th Street (relocate to 12th Street).
       At the afternoon June meeting, a citizen named Selwyn Bethel questioned the Route 3 stop removals. “I depend on them, and a lot of other folks do too,” he said. “Those stops have been there for eons.”
       But Hawkins, a former city bus driver, replied that over the years “traffic patterns have changed drastically.” Also, he said, the way Route 3 is now, it's often a case “one stop, one person gets off,” over and over again. When that happens often enough, the Route 3 bus can be late to the downtown station, resulting in passengers missing transfers for other routes, he asserted.
       Vicki McCann, the public relations supervisor for Mountain Metro, reported that at the other two meetings (June 10 and 11), no other citizens commented about the Route 3 changes.
       A handout provided by Hawkins states that standardization efficiencies will mean cost savings that will be passed on to customers.
       These savings would come from anticipated ridership increases (as a result of service upgrades) and less wear and tear on the vehicles (because of less braking and greater fuel efficiency). The savings in turn would allow better maintenance of bus stops and shelters and even potential expansions, such as Sunday service, according to Christoph Zurcher, a project manager/design specialist with the transit company.
       A rider amenity resulting from standardization would be providing computer-sensitive QR codes at bus stop, thus allowing riders to find out, within a couple of minutes, when the bus will get there, Zurcher pointed out.
       The other service change proposals would not affect the Westside as a whole. These include the other three routes envisioned for the standardization “test” (1, 5 and 25) and ones proposed for stop and routing adjustments (9, 14 and 25). Also proposed are changes in Mountain Metro Mobility reservation procedures.

Westside Pioneer article