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A new 'FREX' -- CDOT to bring back Springs-Denver commuter buses

       A FREX by any other name?
       A weekday commuter route between Colorado Springs and Denver, which ended for financial reasons a year and a half ago, will return late this year or in early 2015, based on a January vote of the Colorado Transportation Commission.
       But unlike FREX (short for Front Range Express), the new, as yet-unnamed service will need no subsidy from the City of Colorado Springs. It will be funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) from an annual allocation of operating funds from the Statewide FASTER Transit Pool, according to Michael Timlin, CDOT bus operations specialist.
       Individual fares will also be charged (amounts to be determined).
       Frex had been costing the city about $1 million a year until Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach overrode City Council on the issue in the summer of 2012, saying the money should be used instead on fixed-bus routes. A few hundred people a day rode the Frex buses.
       In an e-mail Feb. 3, responding to a set of questions submitted by the Westside Pioneer, Timlin described the CDOT plan, as follows:
       “On Jan. 16, 2014, the Transportation Commission approved the funding [to operate an] express bus service. CDOT will become a 'transit agency' and will contract with a private provider to operate the service, much like Mountain Metro Transit does.
       "There are actually three corridors that are the focus of the new bus service, Colorado Springs- Denver, Fort Collins-Denver, and Glenwood Springs-Denver.
       "While we are targeting operations start-up [from] late 2014 to early 2015, much is still in development in the way of station stops, schedules, etc. I can tell you that the service will concentrate on park-and-ride lots and service will terminate/originate at Denver Union Station, with at least two pick-up/drop-off stops in Colorado Springs with one in Monument.
       “Fare structure, while still a work in progress, is expected to be commensurate with the FREX service.
       "The vehicles are anticipated to be 45-foot intercity- type motorcoaches with air-ride suspension, wheelchair lift, lavatory, 50-seat configuration for extra leg room, WiFi, reclining seats fitted with fold- down tray tables, cup holders, foot rests and a 110-volt dual-power outlet for each dual seat unit.
       “CDOT is not making a $10.9 million investment for a 'test' program. Unlike FREX, the CDOT service has an annual allocation of operating funds from the Statewide FASTER Transit Pool . However, in the unlikely event performance goals are consistently unmet like ridership growth, farebox recovery, on time performance, revenue, and expenses, the Transportation Commission has the option to make changes like eliminating service in one or more routes, or terminate the service entirely.
       “Sometime this Spring, after we have selected a 'brand' we will begin public out-reach and communications and gather public input on service levels, fares, etc."

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/3/14)