City Budgets ‘Ride Free Longmont’ Bus Service Funding for 2019
Ride Free Longmont
Information about the Regional Transportation District’s free bus service on local routes within Longmont, as well as other information about bus service in, to, and from the city, is available online, at tinyurl.com/ybkaq3x5
Longmont city staff has included money in the proposed 2019 budget to continue paying the Regional Transportation District to provide free bus rides on local RTD routes within the city.
However, a set of fare changes the transit agency’s board approved on Tuesday could increase the amount RTD will seek from the city for the Ride Free Longmont service next year.
Longmont City Council and city staff members assured a number of residents who showed up at Tuesday night’s council meeting that the overall $362.79 million budget being considered for next year would appropriate $280,000 for the city-subsidized free rides on RTD’s internal Longmont routes, a program that has been in place for more than four years.
But city transportation planner Phil Greenwald on Wednesday said a set of fare changes the RTD board approved during its meeting in Denver on Tuesday night could mean the transit agency might seek to charge Longmont more than the $280,000 staff has thus far recommended earmarking for that expense in next year’s budget.
The city-subsidized free rides are on the Skyline Crosstown Route 323, Main Street Route 324, Westside Crosstown Route 326 and Eastside Crosstown Route 327.
The arrangement between Longmont and RTD is based, in part, on the number of free-ride passengers that don’t pay fares, and RTD next year will be increasing the local bus fare from $2.60 to $3 a trip.
Sandy Stewart, one of the more than 10 people who turned out to make the case for continuing the city’s Ride Free Longmont funding, said heard it was not in the 2019 budget package the city is considering for adoption in October.
Stewart and others told council the free bus service provides workers, students, elderly and disabled and low-income residents the opportunity to get to and from jobs, schools, stores, church, doctor’s appointments, the library and government offices without having to pay the full $2.60 local cash fare RTD would charge without the city’s subsidy.
The free rides help transit-dependent residents to be active, Stewart said, calling the program “a huge benefit for Longmont.”
Edwina Salazar, executive director of Longmont’s OUR Center, said not having to pay for local bus rides offsets other costs of living, particularly for low-income residents, and improves those residents’ financial self-sufficiency.
Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jfryartc