It’s Friday, and you’ve just gotten off work after a long week. You head outside and hop into the awaiting micro-transit van parked outside. You’ve no sooner queued up your favorite playlist when the van pulls up at the transportation center. You get out of the van and board the express bus headed towards home. As you’re deciding which podcast you’ll listen to, you notice that your phone is almost out of battery. “No problem,” you say as you plug your charger into one of the available USB ports on the all-electric bus. The bus drops you off at the town’s park ‘n ride, where you hop into your car, still able to grab groceries for dinner, stop by the post office, and meet friends for happy hour.
This isn’t some big city dream or suburban fantasy. This is what the public transit system in Eagle County could look like in the very near future!
As the population of our County expands, housing becomes more scarce, and parking becomes more expensive, we are increasingly going to become reliant on public transportation to get us to and from work, school, and the slopes.
I must admit: I rarely use public transportation. It’s confusing, doesn’t mesh well with my schedule, and there isn’t a direct route from my house to my office. My car is always the most convenient way to get to work, the grocery store, or to go skiing. Do I wish that I took the bus more often? Of course. Does the public transportation system need to be improved in order for me to use it? Absolutely.
An improved system would increase the accessibility and use of public transportation in Eagle County. To start, we need the schedules of the various bus systems across the County to sync up. We know that many people’s major complaint with public transportation is that it takes too long to get somewhere on the bus. Coordinating schedules across the County will address this issue, giving local residents, seasonal employees, and visitors more frequent service to stops near where they’re living, working, and staying. In turn, traffic congestion and parking demands will decrease as more people choose to take the bus. Reduced traffic congestion will reduce carbon emissions, helping Eagle County achieve our Climate Action Plan goals of 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and 80% by 2050.
Improving public transportation also means incentivizing transit by establishing up- and down-valley “fare-free” zones. This would encourage locals and visitors alike to ditch their cars and take the bus to wherever they might need to go. Increasing the number of limited-stop express bus services at peak commuting hours will make taking public transportation more accessible and convenient for folks who commute from down-valley.
Expanding public transportation services requires hiring more employees, who in turn need a place to live. Building affordable workforce housing near transit facilities would help Eagle County attract drivers and mechanics who want to live and work in our beautiful valley.
As we work to improve our public transit system, we must also accelerate the transition of the bus fleet to all-electric, zero-emission. In 2020, ground transportation was the largest source of CO2e emissions, accounting for 37% of emissions in Eagle County. With Holy Cross Energy fully committed to 100% renewable electricity by 2030, electric buses will reduce transportation tail-pipe emissions and simultaneously keep our air clean
Improvements to our public transportation system are not some far-off dream! The proposed Eagle Valley Regional Transportation Authority will make drastic improvements to our public transportation system. The Authority’s plan will support local workforce, residents, visitors, and businesses; invest in our local economy; and reduce emissions across the County. This November, join the members of the Climate Action Collaborative in voting Yes For Transit! Learn more at yesfortransit.org.
Will Barror is the Climate Action Collaborative Associate at Walking Mountains Science Center. The Climate Action Collaborative is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.