Jan 172012
Authors: Jason Pohl

A popular late-night bus route proposed last fall won’t begin shuttling people out of Old Town until Feb. 3 — three weeks after it was originally slated to begin.

Determining the final logistics of the program have taken longer than initially expected, said Chase Eckerdt, the Associated Students of CSU Director of Governmental Affairs.

“This program is not in the idea phase anymore,” Eckerdt said, stressing the importance of being ready for what he expects to be a successful program. “The reality is that the burden is now on us. It’s how you sell it to people that will make this a success or a failure.”

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 west of campus, at a cost of $1 per ride.

It will be a supplement to the current bus system, and will operate from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year.

The project is being funded largely by Fort Collins Police Services, who have contributed $50,000 to the project through red-light traffic fines. The additional $17,000 of the project is coming from student fees and ASCSU, and the remainder will be generated by ticket sales and advertising revenue.

The buses were expected to begin running this week, but final preparations including staff training and procedure finalization still need to be completed before the so-called Green and Gold routes can start moving, according to Kurt Ravenschlag, the assistant general manager for Transfort.

“We have made significant progress since receiving the green light from CSU and the city of Fort Collins,” he said.

He added that the process has included vehicle preparation, contractor selection, coordination with downtown businesses and the police, printing of schedules and fare media and fine tuning the operating plans. With all of these preparations, Ravenschlag said the only real unknown is how successful the initial weeks of the program will be.

“We feel that we have adequate capacity in terms of number of vehicles and frequency of service, but this could become a very popular service where we may need to look at adding an additional vehicle at peak times,” he said.

The Safe Ride program will consist of four buses operating every weekend of the year, even when classes are not in session. It will use existing infrastructure, including bus shelters and stops.

The current student-operated RamRide service will continue to operate.

Supporters of the project say it will alleviate congestion in the downtown area, especially around closing time at the bars when thousands flood the streets. Additionally, it will provide cheap and reliable transit options throughout the areas to the south and west of the CSU main campus.

The project won support from the Fort Collins City Council in the fall, and student anticipation continues to grow as the start-date nears.

“Anything to help people get out of Old Town late at night safely and especially keep drunk drivers off the road is definitely a good thing,” said Torin Thorsgard, a freshman global natural resources major said. “I can’t see why people wouldn’t use it.”
A full listing of route times, maps and additional information can be found online at fcgov.com.

“It’s a big project, but it’s a good way to kick off the year,” Eckerdt said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:16 pm

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