West Elizabeth to get alternative transportation improvements

Sady Swanson

Changes in alternative transportation are coming to West Elizabeth in an effort to make transportation safer and more efficient.

The City of Fort Collins has launched its next Enhanced Travel Corridor Project, investigating West Elizabeth Street. The project will look into ways to improve alternative transportation on this street.

Ad

“There (are) a lot of people riding that corridor from a transit perspective,” Alternative Transportation Manager Aaron Fodge said.

Possible outcomes of the West Elizabeth ETC include additional or larger buses servicing the routes, larger bike lanes, bus shelters or additional routes, according to Fodge.

Associate Senator for the graduate school in Associated Students of Colorado State University Andrew Bondi said that students help fund Transfort in Fort Collins so Transfort can continue to operate.

“When students say something, Transfort responds because we’re one of their primary ridership,” Bondi said. “They greatly value the student input because, at the end of the day, we’re their customers.”

The project is in the beginning stages, according to co-manager for the West Elizabeth ETC plan and transit planner in the city, Emma Belmont. There is an online survey where students can speak to what issues they experience and where. There is also a WikiMap, a map that students can click on and make comments on certain areas where they think something works well or where there needs to be an improvement.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to provide direct feedback,” Fodge said.

Bondi said ASCSU wants to survey all students living west of campus and encourages students to use the city’s online survey.

“When involved in large-scale projects like this, there’s a window at the very beginning of it where you can get in whatever input you want and there’s no cost because there haven’t been any plans drawn, there haven’t really been any conversations yet,” Bondi said. “Basically, if you said that you wanted the buses to be pink on that side of campus, it could happen.”

According to Bondi, six transit routes head down West Elizabeth Street and then fan out on their own paths, which he said is inefficient and ineffective.

“Elizabeth is just a wreck,” Bondi said.

Ad

The 33 route that takes students from main campus to the Foothills campus comes every 30 minutes, but Bondi said that can be an issue for students that have classes on both campuses.

“Every 30 minutes isn’t enough, but it’s not feasible to run routes every 10 minutes on that route right now,” Bondi said. “It’s not picking up enough people because the other routes are there.”

An option being discussed to solve that issue, according to Bondi, would be adding a West Elizabeth MAX that would run every 10 minutes from the main campus to the Foothills campus and back on Elizabeth Street.

The project also looks at how Elizabeth Street could be a better entrance to campus, Fodge said.

“It’s kind of a dead end instead of an entrance into campus into that parking lot,” Bondi said.

More students are concentrated on the west side off campus near Elizabeth Street in apartment complexes such as Ram’s Village, according to Bondi, so an increase in alternative transportation options is necessary.

“The 31 itself, so the one that does Ram’s Village, has just about the same ridership as MAX,” Bondi said. “That’s why that route comes every 10 minutes.”

Safety is another issue expressed by commuters on Elizabeth Street. Bondi said the buses often have to cut off bicyclists on West Elizabeth Street because they have to cut into the bike lane to pick up passengers.

They are currently in the existing conditions analysis stage, Belmont said, so anything is possible to come out of the process.

“Everything is out on the table,” Belmont said.

Short-term improvements could be made throughout the process, but they hope to have a finalized plan by July 2016, according to Belmont.

“(Participants in the process) could be guiding what this corridor looks like for the next 20 to 30 years,” Fodge said.

Collegian Reporter Sady Swanson can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan.