A popular late-night bus route proposal received unanimous support from the Fort Collins City Council Tuesday, clearing the final hurdle in a process that has been in the works since spring.
â€œThis perhaps is an ideal solution to a problem that is extremely negative for Fort Collins,â€ said Mayor Karen Weitkunat, citing a need to deal with the image many see of Old Town after the bars close.
The Safe Ride Home Program was unveiled by the Associated Students of CSU in November and will consist of two routes servicing the Old Town area as well as areas to the west of campus at a cost of $1 per ride. It will be a supplement to the current bus system, and it will operate from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
The program will be available for students and the broader Fort Collins community, which is something that many members of council stressed, noting that itâ€™s not just for intoxicated people leaving the bars, but rather the broader community.
â€œI think itâ€™s going to benefit a lot more people than just students,â€said District 3 Council Member Aislinn Kottwitz. â€œI think this is a great example of partnerships.”
Council members added that the impact will be felt across the community, from a decrease in police incidents, to use among those who may want to take the bus or walk downtown and need a ride home.
â€œTo me, this proposal is a much broader proposal,â€ said Gerry Horak, who represents District 6.
The new route is being financed through student fees as well as Fort Collins Police Services, and it is expected to be begin running in January, 2012.
ASCSU has worked closely with Fort Collins Police Services to coordinate the project, which will alleviate the congestion Old Town sees as the bars close when as many as 4,000 people file into the streets.
â€œThereâ€™s going to be an ongoing evaluation,â€ said Capt. Jerry Schiager said, who has worked with ASCSU and the city regarding the new program.
According to surveys and student feedback, more than 90 percent of those questioned supported the implementation of a new, late-night service.
The current bus stops and infrastructure will be used for the new program, and the service will be contracted out to another company in a similar way as existing taxi services. The city already owns the four buses, which will cover the two routes.
Council expressed some concerns, specifically regarding the long-term plans for the program, but ultimately chose to back the bus route citing a need for innovative solution for the community. The ordinance appropriating the city funds will go to council for a second reading in two weeks.
â€œI think this is a huge step for us in terms of the kind of relationship we have with the city,â€ said Chase Eckerdt, director of Governmental Affairs for ASCSU. â€œItâ€™s been a really collaborative effort, and I think that shows in the final product.â€
Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at email@example.com.
Breakout: Fast Facts
Late-night bus route serving Old Town, west Fort Collins
Operation from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
$34,000 from students
$50,000 from FCPS
Partnership with Transfort, FCPS, ASCSU
Expected to begin in January