Poudre Express bus connecting Greeley, Fort Collins launches January

Samantha Ye

Poudre Express
The Poudre Express is an express bus route connecting Greeley, Fort Collins and Windsor set to start in January 2020. It is run by Greeley’s transit services. (Image courtesy of Aaron Fodge)

Students will soon be able to ride free on a new express bus route connecting Greeley to the Colorado State University campus. 

Starting in January 2020, the Poudre Express will run between Fort Collins, Windsor and Greeley five days a week to assist the high number of commuters between the towns. 

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The CSU Alternative Transportation Fee Advisory Board unanimously sponsored the project last spring with $20,000 annually from students’ alternative transportation fees. 

ATFAB voted to support the Greeley route because “it simultaneously fills a demand, increases sustainability and compliments social justice,” Noah Fishman, vice chair of the ATFAB, wrote in an email to The Collegian

As part of the ATFAB sponsorship, anyone with a RamCard can ride the route for free. According to the 2019 CSU Parking and Transportation Survey, 26% of students already use transit as their primary mode of transportation, and this new route helps build on that. 

“It’s great that students have invested in transit,” said Aaron Fodge, CSU alternative transportation manager. “(The Poudre Express) wanted a good-faith investment by the students in return for being able to ride it for free, and giving them riders hopefully makes the route successful.”

Run-through of the route

The Poudre Express will launch Jan. 2, 2020 under Greeley’s transit services, said Will Jones, public works deputy director for the city of Greeley.

Five buses will run Monday through Friday, seven times a day. There will be four trips in the morning and three in the afternoon to best align with when people go to and get off of work or class, Jones said. The buses will come with Wi-Fi and USB ports so people can work during the commute.

“I love that these buses are fully equipped with Wi-Fi,” ATFAB Chair Patricia Vail wrote in an email to The Collegian. “Now, instead of wasting 1.5 hours a day in traffic, students and faculty can efficiently get their work done.” 

While an exact route hasn’t yet been established, the bus will definitely run through Greeley, Windsor and Fort Collins, connecting CSU and the University of Northern Colorado, Fodge said. The path roughly follows that of the Poudre River: hence the name, Poudre Express.

In 2015, CSU and UNC data showed significant clusters of students and employees who were commuting from another city to their campus. Over 300 CSU students and employees had addresses in Greeley, and over 400 had addresses in Windsor.

Map indicating where CSU and UNC students and employees live and commute from. Shows significant clusters of CSU students and employees in Greeley and Windsor.
Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado pulled together data to illustrate where their students and employees live and commute from. The map shows clusters of CSU students and employees in Greeley and Windsor. (Image courtesy of Aaron Fodge)

With UNC students and employees showing similar commuting patterns, this indicated to the city of Greeley that an express route was a worthwhile investment, Fodge said. 

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The total project operating costs are $550,000 a year, and the five compressed natural gas buses were $575,000 each, according to Jones.

The City of Fort Collins is contributing $100,000 annually, according to Kaley Zeisel, city capital planning and grant compliance manager.

In addition to allowing stops in Fort Collins and assisting with marketing, the City has been working with Greeley and Loveland to make a regional bus pass compatible with multiple transit systems, Zeisel wrote in an email to The Collegian.

“We want the route to be successful, so right out of the gate what we’re (going to) do is what the data is telling us,” said Darren Davis, Greeley transit manager. “If for some reason it doesn’t work for students or faculty, we’d be willing to make adjustments down the road, but we’re going to launch this and see how it goes.”

Why this route?

Environmental benefits

In a 2017 survey of 1,755 local respondents, 882 people said they would take a Greeley to Fort Collins route three to five times a week for work or school. This equates to 151,320 potential single occupancy car trips taken off of the road this year, Fishman wrote.

“This is a huge positive environmental impact, and I’m very excited to see what the real numbers end up being this year,” Fishman wrote. 

Fewer cars on the road can mitigate traffic congestion and improve air quality, according to City officials.

Accessibility and affordability

As housing costs in Fort Collins continue to rise, CSU project partners see improving regional transit as one way to accommodate people living outside of the city. 

“(Due) to housing in Greeley and Windsor being much cheaper than that of Fort Collins, this provides social justice in the sense that now students who live in these areas and cannot afford a car now have an affordable transportation option to get to CSU,” Fishman wrote. “Prior to this route, the cheapest transport (costed) $50 (using Uber or Lyft) for a one-way trip from Greeley to Fort Collins.”

What (public) transit allows you to do is shift money from your personal vehicle to your rent.” –Aaron Fodge, CSU alternative transportation manager

As such, having a direct bus route with “comparable commute times to driving” meets ATFAB’s mission by providing “cost effective options for new and existing students,” Vail wrote. 

It also allows people with cars to forgo many of the associated costs like parking permits and gas, Fodge said.

“What transit allows you to do is shift money from your personal vehicle to your rent,” Fodge said. 

ATFAB looking for new projects

From SkiSU to Rams Ride Right, the Poudre Express is not the only project ATFAB has sponsored in recent years. In fact, they will be soliciting new projects from early October through mid-January. 

“ATFAB considers projects that directly benefit CSU students, enhance transportation safety, provide new facilities or improve current facilities, contain an environmental benefit and have thoughtful aesthetic and design quality,” Vail wrote. 

Any CSU student, staff or faculty can submit a project through the process on their website, according to Fishman and Vail.

Additionally, Vail wrote that ATFAB will continue working with Transfort to ensure students’ transportation needs are being met. 

“We urge students and faculty to contact us about ‘gaps’ that they encounter when commuting to CSU so that we can do our best to address them in the coming year,” Vail wrote. 

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.