Experiment with smaller bus on Route 16

       Mountain Metro Transit has been experimenting this month with smaller buses on Route 16 (which includes connections to the Westside Wal-Mart and Uintah Gardens shopping center).
       Although additional testing may still take place in February, no permanent changes to a smaller bus are anticipated on the route at this time, according to Andy Garton, the Mountain Metro business adminstrator.
       Between Jan. 9 and 20, Route 16 was one of four in Colorado Springs in which a 20-seat Startrans bus was tried out, handling about a third of the passengers overall.
       The normal, full-sized city transit buses are 36- or 39-seat Gilligs.
       Mountain Metro, a division of the city, owns two Startrans buses. They're left over from the former “Dash” shuttle service that ran downtown a few years ago.
       Studies have shown such buses get better miles per gallon (7 as opposed to 4 on the Gilligs) and are about five times cheaper. However, they wear out about three times faster, according to Mountain Metro statistics.
       A Startrans has been able to handle the ridership on Route 16 (which runs daytimes hourly, Monday-Friday). But because Mountain Metro “interlines” Route 16 with Route 15 (Pikes Peak Community College/Las Vegas Street) to accomplish other driving efficiencies, the smaller bus had to be used on both. And on Route 15 there have been two instances in which, because the Startrans reached capacity, “we had to leave passengers behind,” Garton said.
       After the termination of Dash, Mountain Metro had initially deployed the two smaller buses to Route 31 in Fountain. They became available recently when Fountain decided to run its own bus service and Route 31 was cancelled, Garton said.
       The small-bus test project was organized in conjunction with Mayor Steve Bach's Transit Solutions Team - comprised of citizens, city officials and Mountain Metro staff - which is looking for ways to improve transit efficiency.
       Route 16 includes the streets of Eighth, Moreno, 21st, Bott, 26th, Colorado, 30th, Uintah, 19th, Mesa, Fontmore and King.

Westside Pioneer article