Oct 31, 2012 7:57 PM by Matt Stafford
Public transportation is a constantly evolving discussion in Colorado Springs. It was the first topic as Mayor Steve Bach and members of City Council sat down to chat Wednesday morning. It was one of the Mayor's 'Counsel' Meetings; where they don't vote on anything, but the Mayor and council members have a chance to talk.
The group talked long and short-term solutions to the problems that local transportation has faced in recent years; budget issues, just like every department has had.
"I started losing my vision as a teenager," says John Ferlin, bus rider who spoke with News 5 before Wednesday's meeting. Ferlin has lived in Colorado Springs since the 80s. He bought a house near a bus route.
"I made the choice to live on public transportation, and that was taken away," says Ferlin. "When they changed things five years ago they took away a major part of my life."
Now Ferlin's wife drives him to work.
"If I wanted to come by cab to work it would cost me $56 a day," explains Ferlin.
At the Mayor's 'Counsel' Meeting, a new long-term idea could change things once again for Ferlin, and others that would chose to utilize public transportation.
"Over the next, say, five to ten years I believe we should evolve to a transit concept that is some subset of the city; if you generally want to ride the bus, you should live within a certain zone," says Mayor Steve Bach. Others of the four-of-nine members of City Council in attendance seemed to like the idea.
The idea of planned areas to live for people who chose to ride the bus frustrates Ferlin. The bus used to be his ticket to independence, and getting out with his kids.
"I can't do any of those things without public transportation," explains Ferlin.
However, the Mayor is thinking about the budget.
"I think it's unrealistic to let people continue thinking that if you live out in Banning Lewis Ranch, or if you live in North Gate, that you're going to have regular bus service.; it's just not going to be possible," says Mayor Bach. "Otherwise we're going to have to maintain fewer routes in the rest of the city."
No decisions were made Wednesday; there's plenty of conversation to have moving forward. Ferlin and others like him hope to be a part of that conversation.
In other news for Mountain Metro Transit, rates are going up for para-transit riders. That begins Thursday, November 1st. The new rate will be an additional 50 cents each way, adding up to $3.50 per trip.