Feb 012012
Authors: Jason Pohl

A highly-anticipated late-night bus program will finally take to the streets Friday, marking the end of the planning phase and the beginning of Fort Collins’ newest safe-ride alternative.

“From our angle, we feel really good about where we’re at,” said Chase Eckerdt, director of Governmental Affairs for the Associated Students of CSU. “It sounds to me like everything is right on track.”

The program will consist of two routes servicing Old Town and areas to the west and south of the CSU main campus between 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Additional details of the so-called green and gold routes, pick-up times and additional information can be found online at www.fcgov.com.

The cost of each ride will be $1.

“Ultimately it’s a lot cheaper and a lot better than a DUI,” Eckerdt said. “I think it’s just another great option students in Fort Collins are going to have.”

The one-year trial project is being funded largely by Fort Collins Police Services, who have contributed $50,000 through red-light traffic tickets. An additional $17,000 of the project is coming from student fees each semester, and the remainder will be generated by ticket sales and advertising.

Initial planning began last spring with the goal of improving late-night transit options in the downtown area, where thousands flood the streets as bars close –– something Fort Collins Police Services recognized.

Captain Jerry Schiager has worked with ASCSU and the city throughout the process and said that, though he doesn’t anticipate any major issues with the buses, officers have been made aware of the routes.

“I just think it’s going to be a good service to give people,” Schiager said.
He explained the only foreseeable issues could be rowdy groups of people being dropped off around the city or an altercation on a bus, but he said that’s not too likely and the payoff is worth the risk.

“I just don’t think those are the kind of folks that will take advantage of this program,” he added. “I’m hopeful.”

The buses are being operated by an independent group contracted out by Transfort, much like the taxi system that is already in place. RamRide and RamRide Return will operate as usual, although at a likely reduced and more efficient rate.

Interest in the project has grown across CSU. According to ASCSU surveys from the fall semester, more than 90 percent of respondents were in favor of a late-night option in the Old Town area.
“It seems like it will be a very convenient alternative,” said Niles Hachmeister, a sophomore psychology major. “I think it’s definitely a wonderful complement to RamRide.”

Though the planning is all but complete, marketing and fine tuning will continue to be a major focus, said Eckerdt. ASCSU is working with downtown businesses and bars to promote the program and is considering print and video advertising among downtown businesses.

He stressed that a lot of the awareness will likely be based on word-of-mouth, and at this point, it is difficult to predict what sort of numbers can be expected. However, he said that if it’s successful beyond expectations, they will be ready to go back to the drawing board and adapt.

“There’s a lot of unknowns because we haven’t done anything like this before,” Eckerdt said. “We’re really excited to get it started.”

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

Late night bus
Friday and Saturday
11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
$1 fares
Pickup in Old Town and throughout FoCo
For more information, visit www.fcgov.com

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