Mountain Express Transit announces fare-free July and August


Zero Fare For Better Air, We’ll Get You There is a collaborative, statewide initiative designed to reduce ground-level ozone by increasing the use of transit. 

Starting July 1, Mountain Express Transit is encouraging community residents and visitors to ride transit to help keep Colorado’s air clean during the summer months when air pollution is at its highest. 

Mountain Express will offer free trips during the months of July and August on all fixed routes. The effort is made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 24-032, the Ozone Season Transit Grant Program in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office.

Mountain Express welcomes individuals who may have never used its transit services and customers who are regular transit users to ride often all summer long and save money getting where they need to go.

“The pilot program that launched August of 2022 was highly successful. Transit systems from all over the state participated, ranging from those serving the largest cities, like RTD in Denver, to regional rural systems like SMART in San Miguel County (Telluride region). Mid-size cities throughout Colorado, like Greeley, Pueblo and Colorado Springs participated in the program. Smaller communities in mountain towns, the eastern plains and Western Slope also took advantage of this amazing opportunity,” Colorado Association of Transit Agencies Executive Director Ann Rajewski said. “All agencies that participated increased ridership — ranging anywhere between 2 percent to 59 percent. This year we are expanding the program for the entire summer and are expecting to increase the number of transit agencies participating.”

In 2023, the Zero Fare program was equally successful. 

Throughout Colorado, 16 communities provided free fares to riders throughout the months of June through August. In addition to providing free fares, the program also provided funding for a marketing campaign promoting the statewide initiative. 

Together, these efforts helped generate a 2 percent to 216 percent increase in ridership in participating communities. 

This year, the program will be active for two months, July and August, and 13 communities throughout Colorado are participating. This three-year campaign is the largest free fare transit initiative in the U.S.

Approximately 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation are due to day-to-day commutes. By leaving the car at home, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day depending on the length of the trip.

Additional customer benefits of the Zero Fare program are substantial. 

Riders experience environmental, financial, lifestyle and community benefits of transit that include the following.

Cost savings  

Taking the bus saves on car expenses including maintenance and parking, which add up quickly. Not only do you save money on gas, but you also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. 

According to a recent study by AAA, a new car’s routine maintenance and repairs could cost an average of $0.09 per mile. If you drive 10,000 miles in a year, that totals $900. If you drive 20,000 miles, that figure jumps to $1,800 annually.

Gas savings

Riding public transit frees up additional funds in customers’ everyday budgets. 

In addition, public transportation saves the United States an estimated 4.2 billion gallons of gas annually, reducing dependency on foreign oil. 

Reduction in traffic 

Taking public transit keeps cars off the road, limiting traffic congestion, air pollution and ground-level ozone. 

Colorado’s population grew 39 percent over the past 20 years and is expected to grow another 30 percent in the next 20, significantly increasing traffic around the state. This robust growth makes it essential for commuters to have public transit options to offset the increase in traffic and increased distances to work.

Reduction in stress and increased safety

Taking public transit removes the stress and anxiety of battling everyday traffic. Public transportation is one of the safest ways to travel and it is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by car.

Increased productivity  

While taking public transit, customers can catch up on reading, emails, podcasts or just sit back and relax.

Improved air quality 

Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Using public transit creates 84 percent less carbon emissions than driving a car. That is a savings of 63 million metric tons annually.

About Mountain Express

Mountain Express is designed to increase mobility options for residents in Archuleta County. 

With free service in July and August on fixed routes, transit riders can experience cost savings, stress reduction, a safer ride and increased productivity while helping get cars off the road and improving Colorado’s air quality. 

Mountain Express supports Archuleta County with fixed-route public transit and on-demand service. It also provides paratransit for elderly and disabled persons. The fixed-route system serves uptown and downtown Pagosa Springs with 21 scheduled stops that are served 10 times throughout the day. 

Mountain Express also provides weekly service from Pagosa Springs to Durango and Arboles to Pagosa Springs.

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