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MAX bus route to impact all transit in city

The MAX bus stations are popping up all along Mason Street thoughout Fort Collins. The system is currently undergoing testing and training before finally being installed.
The MAX bus stations are popping up all along Mason Street thoughout Fort Collins. The system is currently undergoing testing and training before finally being installed.

Residents of Fort Collins and students of CSU will experience some alternative transportation-related change this summer, thanks to MAX, the new bus rapid transit route which will open to the public May 10.

MAX runs seven miles parallel to the train track through Fort Collins from the downtown transit center to a newly built transit center just south of Harmony Road.

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MAX will run Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to midnight according to Timothy Wilder, Transfort service development manager and the city’s Transfort contact for the project. The route will exist almost completely on the designated cement guideway that runs parallel to the train tracks and will take an estimated 20 minutes from downtown to Harmony Road.

The route will run through the main campus of CSU with stops at Laurel Street, University Avenue and Prospect Road with the University Avenue stop acting as the University’s main transit center. This stop will be larger and have additional bike parking to accommodate the anticipated student ridership.

“What MAX is going to do, it’s going to offer students the ability to live in different places and still efficiently access campus without the need for their own vehicle,” said Aaron Fodge, CSU’s alternative transportation manager. “That’s a big deal.”

Fares will be the same as current Transfort fares — free for CSU students and $1.25 for a single ride for community members. All Transfort passes will be accepted on MAX. And, during this summer, MAX will be free.

Each station will be equipped with “next bus” technology, letting you know exactly when the next bus will arrive. An app will also launch in May encompassing the entire transit system, providing real-time updates and other features, according to Fodge.

A 12 foot cement path for bicyclists and pedestrians will follow along much of the route on the west side of the tracks, known as the Mason Trail. As part of the MAX project, the trail now extends north from Prospect Road through CSU to Laurel Street. It previously ran from Fossil Creek Trail and ended at Prospect Road.

This $87 million project is mostly federally funded and has been in the works for more than a decade. The city kicked in $4 million of direct investments and $14 million came from state and local entities, according to the city’s website.

This route change will affect the entire community, with promotional marketing beginning three to four weeks before May 10 targeted at students and employees of CSU, and people located downtown and along the Mason Corridor, according to Claire Thomas, marketing consultant for the MAX project.

“This project connects the entire community of Fort Collins,” Fodge said.

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MAX will consistently run every 10 minutes in both directions, which allowed the city to streamline their existing Transfort routes, according to Fodge. Several route changes will accompany the opening of MAX to the public.

“Today there is about 1,100 possible transit trips per hour that can be made to campus, with (MAX) there is another 720 transit trips possible,” said Fred Haberecht, MAX project manager for the University. “It builds a capacity and opportunity to use transit on campus.”

Traffic congestion will not affect the MAX timeline for the most part as it will have signal prioritization at a number of intersections along the route. How MAX will affect traffic, however, is yet to be determined.

“The negative parts are yet to be seen,” Haberecht said. “If there is a negative impact, it will be at the intersections.”

Kickoff parties will be held at five stations along the route on May 10 to celebrate the official opening of MAX to the public, one of which will be at the University Avenue station on campus.

For more information visit fcgov.com/max

Collegian Green Beat Reporter Laren Cyphers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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