Fraser and Winter Park hold joint transit workshop
The Winter Park Town Council joined the Fraser Board of Trustees for a joint workshop regarding the transit system Wednesday night. In a productive discussion the respective boards talked about their budgeting concerns, future plans for the transit service, ideas for reducing transit costs, raising more funds for the system and more.
While nothing was decided, the meeting served as an important step in securing the future of The Lift, and building relationships between the towns.
Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail emphasized the significance of the gathering, as there has never been a similar joint workshop regarding transit, what has become a vital piece of infrastructure for both towns.
The primary focus was budgeting. The Town of Fraser spent over $470 thousand on the transit service last year, not including soft costs such as planning and daily transportation and bus maintenance before and after routes. Fraser took in over $546 thousand in revenue from the transit tax, making only a meager profit.
In 2015 the residents of both Winter Park and Fraser voted to increase the towns’ sales tax, one percent in Fraser and two percent in Winter Park, to fund the transportation system. The tax went into affect at the beginning of 2016.
The Lift is a free transit service.
Winter Park did not give specific numbers, but voiced that they were dealing with a similar situation financially.
Currently Winter Park is subsidizing the costs of the system for Fraser, Granby and Grand County. Mayor Jimmy Lahrman said the subsidies were necessary to expand the system and build credibility with the public.
While still a ways away, Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson said the plan is to build a new maintenance facility for the busses. A project Lahrman said could cost in the ballpark of $12 million. Winter Park has begun earmarking parts of Winter Park Resort’s yearly $300 thousand fees for the facility. The Town is currently working on a master plan to begin looking for potential locations for the facility, according to Nelson.
Both towns stressed their desire to begin putting away a surplus of funds, so that in the event of economic downturn they wouldn’t have to begin deficit spending or scaling back the service. There were several ideas as to how to increase revenue.
Ideas included charging for parking passes, instituting regional fares for Granby and unincorporated Grand County, and charging for late night rides.
Concerns were raised over all ideas, and none were discussed at length.
The idea was also brought up to extend the workshop to include both Granby and Grand County, although nothing has been scheduled.
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