MAX Benefit: New transit system to ease congestion in Fort Collins

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Mar 272013
 

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Let’s face it – getting around Fort Collins can be a pain sometimes. Whether by foot, bike, car or bus, we are often subject to inclement weather, detours and the all-too-common traffic jam. With the city’s population continuing to grow, the traffic will only get worse based on our current infrastructure. To fight the problem, the city’s transportation system is undergoing a major change: the addition of the MAX Bus Rapid Transit service.

A rendering of the completed system provides a sneak peek at what will come to be known as the University station and the "gateway" to Colorado State's campus. Photo courtesy of Max Bus Rapid Transit.

A rendering of the completed system provides a sneak peek at what will come to be known as the University station and the “gateway” to Colorado State’s campus. Photo courtesy of Max Bus Rapid Transit.

Projected to be up and running by May 2014, the MAX transit system will connect North and South Fort Collins via the Mason Corridor, making the whole of the city more readily accessible to residents on either end.

According to the City of Fort Collins website, there will be 12 boarding stations and two transit centers: one just south of Harmony Road and one just north of Laporte Avenue. A total of six accordion-style buses will travel up and down the Mason Corridor, arriving at stops every 10 minutes or so. Passengers can pay at ticket kiosks before boarding buses, giving MAX the convenience of a light rail system. Buses will run Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to midnight.

The MAX system will also be integrated with Fort Collins’ regular bus service, Transfort, according to the website. Claire Thomas, the public relations coordinator for the City of Fort Collins, said Transfort will adopt some of the technology that will be used by MAX, such as real-time bus arrival information. Transfort may also change its routes slightly to accommodate the MAX stations, making it easier for passengers to travel east or west from stops.

“It will really up their game,” Thomas said.

Re-routing residents through CSU's campus, construction crews have blocked off a section of Prospect Rd. in between College Ave. and Centre Ave. The closure is scheduled to last until April 14. Photo by Natasha Leadem.

Re-routing residents through CSU’s campus, construction crews have blocked off a section of Prospect Rd. in between College Ave. and Centre Ave. The closure is scheduled to last until April 14. Photo by Natasha Leadem.

Having a new mass transportation system that spans the majority of the city will also be of particular benefit to the CSU community. In addition to stopping at Prospect Road and Laurel Street, buses will stop on campus at a University Avenue station, which will be larger than others.

“There will be a larger plaza area with a berm and some landscaping and a boulder-wall seating area,” Thomas said. “There [will be] many more bike racks than any other station.”

The MAX Transit project also gives Fort Collins the unique opportunity to update the midtown area along College Avenue. There exists the potential for new student housing farther south along the MAX route, according to Thomas.

“We have all these free development opportunities,” she said. “We hope that housing developers will see these opportunities.”

Students  living off campus are looking forward to having an easier way to commute to CSU and travel around Fort Collins.

As the ninth stop on the Max Transit route, the Drake station will be located near Colorado State University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Animal Care Center. Photo courtesy of Max Bus Rapid Transit.

As the ninth stop on the Max Transit route, the Drake station will be located near Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital and Animal Care Center. Photo courtesy of Max Bus Rapid Transit.

“It would be perfect for transportation around here. I think it’s a good idea,” said Shawna Drewer, junior human dimensions and natural resources major.

With the MAX Transit route so close to campus, it’s a convenient ride for all students.

“I think it will present a lot more opportunity to live farther from campus,” said Amanda Guderjahn, junior business major. “I’ll probably use it a lot.”

Even on-campus students will experience the benefit. Freshman mathematics major Tristan Lee plans to live on campus again next year, and he said the MAX system will make it much easier to get around Fort Collins since he doesn’t drive a car.

“For going out with friends I think it would be a lot better because you could just walk across campus and take it,” Lee said.  “I’d really hate biking on College, so just being able to go right into Old Town would be nice.”

However, Lee would like to see MAX run later than its anticipated schedule.

“Lots of times when I go out with friends we end up going to a 24-hour place like IHOP,” he said. “So I guess for going out at night it wouldn’t really be the best thing.”

Visit fcgov.com/maxconstruction for weekly construction updates and more information about the MAX service.