At the August 6th meeting of the Transit Advisory Committee, Transit Manager, Michael Koch, opened the meeting with good news. He told the Committee that that he’d just received notice they had been awarded $169,950 in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Section 5311, passed through from CDOT. The amount is 10% more than what they’d received the previous year. “The funds can only be used for operating dollars on routes that are operated on a year-round basis. The Black Line and the new year-round Regional route that will operate between Granby and Winter Park are where the dollars will be allocated”, said Koch.
The Lift Rider app conversion moves forward
Koch also told the Committee that conversion to the new ITS, Ride Systems, was in the testing phase currently. He told them it is on track for launch on September 4th, the day following the Ride Hop app’s untimely demise.
“The Lift Rider” is the name of the new app which will be available for download on both the Apple and Google Play stores on September 4th. With the new app, no rider code will be required to find the routes, it is specific to The Lift’s Transit System. “The new app will vastly improve the rider experience”, said Koch. It will show only active transportation routes and give an expected time of arrival in real time. Koch described it as “a lot more user-friendly and a more sophisticated app”. Bus Drivers will have the ability to post delays (e.g., the bus is at capacity, traffic, etc) and Dispatch will also have the ability to push notifications out for single routes, or to the entire system.
Administrative reporting is much improved which will help with planning efforts. The system will track ridership, including number of riders getting on and off at every stop. There will also be extensive training on the new system, ensuring the highest level of service and data integrity. There will be 10 hours of training provided to transit staff, and Ride Systems will also provide Train the Trainer sessions to those that will continue the training once the initial implementation is complete.
They’re working with Slate on integrating The Lift Rider with the Town’s transit webpage as well. When complete, theliftwp.com will be its own website, showing real-time data from The Lift Rider. “Ride Systems is easy to integrate”, said Koch.
Koch told the Committee that they had initially selected RideHop because their implementation costs were far less than other quotes received at $5,000. While it did not have all the bells and whistles, it served its purpose and helped with the RFP process for the new app. “I am feeling much more confident with Ride Systems”, said Koch.
All signage referencing RideHop will be replaced in the coming months with new signs designed by Studio Six. Marketing materials will also be updated in time for the winter 2018-2019 season.
Transit System receives proposal for Bus Advertising
Koch told the Committee that he’d recently met with Greg Moffitt, who does marketing for a lot of transit systems across the state. Moffitt had previously worked with the resort on bus advertising and is familiar with FTA requirements. Moffitt is proposing the Transit System receives 30-40% of gross ad revenues, bringing additional funds to the program.
Local businesses would be targeted as advertisers, with the only limitation being that they cannot advertise alcohol, tobacco or marijuana due to federal funding guidelines. Koch said they would be able to reserve space (about 5%) for town use for advertising events, help wanted, etc.
Committee member Philip Vandernail suggested they negotiate a higher percentage of ad revenue, since the buses host the advertising in a captive environment. He felt that even 40% was too low. Koch said he was working with the town attorney on language and had not yet presented anything on this to Town Council, this was an initial briefing.
2018-2019 Route Changes Discussed
The Committee next discussed options for 2018-2019 Service alternatives. They looked at changes on four lines.
The Black Line will change to a bi-directional route, traveling through Grand Park. They are also moving the Safeway bus stop away from the front door and closer to CR 804, away from the businesses. They are also considering bringing the Purple Express Line through Safeway to facilitate transfers, making it quicker to stay on route.
With the Black Line going into the Rec Center now, it is providing better service to access the Grand Park Community Rec Center. The Red Line also “hops in” to the Rec Center and comes back out, but, if the Red Line didn’t go in and just came out at Rendezvous and headed south toward the resort, it would result in notable cost savings and allow the Red Line to operate on a half-hour schedule 7 days a week. Both the Black and Red Lines would run every half-hour, helping with capacity and offering a better level of service.
They will be adding an extra bus on weekends and holidays to the Green Line. To service Base Camp at Jane Creek, the bus will run through Iron Horse Way and stop across the street from Ski Depot, eliminating the need to add another stop. They discussed that the lower road is in rough shape and is planned to be paved, after construction season is finished. The Property Management Company will need to educate their renters on where the bus stop is. This addresses some of the safety issues, since there is no walkway, only a road. It would simplify things if they put in sidewalks, but there are currently no plans for the development to do so. The Green Line will continue to be a circulator, and Lakota has been added permanently to the route.
As for the Regional Commuter Line, they are looking at keeping the same number of roundtrips, but modifying the mid-day and evening schedule to capture more riders on the route. Stops will be added on this line at the Worldmark by Wyndham property in Grand Elk as well as City Market.
Winter Park picks up County’s portion of Transit tab
The Town of Winter Park is currently paying the County’s share of transit costs which include routes through Beaver Village, Meadowridge and between Fraser and Granby, which equates to about $244,890 per year. Service contracts with Beaver Village and Meadowridge HOAs brings in about $102,247, leaving the Town of Winter Park covering $142,642 in costs allocated to Grand County. “Winter Park steps in and pays this amount so we don’t leave employees, residents, or visitors stranded without a ride”, said Koch. To date, the County has only offered $50,000 for establishment of new lines, but will not fund existing routes.
The Regional Commuter Line costs about $216,028 annually, which is split between participating entities. Fraser’s allocated costs are $31,972.19; WP’s allocated costs are $79,930.47; Grand County’s allocated costs are $47,958.28; and, Granby’s allocated costs are $56,167.36. The costs for the route are allocated based on the number of stops in each jurisdiction.
2019 Budget Draft reviewed by Committee
Koch presented the Committee with the draft 2019 budget, highlighting costs associated with service alternatives they’d just discussed. He also told them that the numbers now include management and fuel fees, which were not included in last year’s budget numbers. He said they had spent $187,000 in fuel costs last year, but noted that prices have risen about $.61 per gallon in the last six months, so fuel costs in 2018 will be higher.
The number of passengers has increased markedly this year over last, as the transit system continues to gain traction as a reliable source of transportation. “We have had good ridership on the Black Line this summer,” said First Transit Manager, Mike Fudge.
Fraser Town Manager, Jeff Durbin, and Assistant, Michael Brack, were also in attendance at the meeting. Durbin told the Committee that Fraser had budgeted $450,000 for transit in 2018 and he was recommending an increase to $625,000 for 2019.
Public feedback sought at next meeting
Koch plans to take input received from the Committee and incorporate it into the proposed changes to the Black, Green, Red and Regional Commuter lines and will bring them back at the next meeting, scheduled for August 20th at 4 pm.
Interested members of the public are encouraged to attend the August 20th meeting and comment on the proposed changes, before recommendations are presented to Town Council.