Shuttle for Westside/Manitou not in RTA plans
No return of a shuttle service through the Westside is envisioned in current bus-service plans by the Pikes Peak Rural
Transportation Authority (RTA) and Springs Transit.
Discussions on how to invest the additional (estimated) $6.5 million from the RTA this year have focused on enhancing regular service, according to interviews with Manitou Springs Mayor Marcy Morrison, District 3 City Council member Jerry Heimlicher and Springs Transit spokesperson Amy MacDonald.
Morrison said, for instance, she would like to see 30-minute (instead of the current hourly) service to Manitou, "at least during rush hours."
MacDonald has previously reported that Springs Transit plans to add Sunday and possibly Saturday night service, including its line from the downtown up Colorado Avenue to Manitou Springs. Final plans are still in the works, she said this week.
A summer shuttle of some kind - funded at different times with advertising, ridership, government stipends and business/individual donations - had connected Manitou and parts of the Westside for about 20 years until last summer.
For most of those years, open-air, customized "jolly trolleys" with volunteer tour-guide-style drivers provided the service, picking up riders between Old Colorado City and Manitou and making stops at such locales as the Garden of the Gods Trading Post and the cog railway.
Mounting mechanical problems sidelined the trolleys after 2000. Manitou used a federal matching grant to fund a free, enclosed shuttle with paid, less-talkative bus drivers from 2001 to 2003.
The city decided not to fund the service alone after the grant ran out. "The business community did not find it a really valuable tool for economic development because it attracted a lot of transients, which the tourists complained about," Morrison said. "So it was a double-whammy."
As for the jolly trolleys, which have been stored for the past three years at the Manitou public works facility, "They're in very bad shape," she said, and the city's economic development program has higher current priorities than fixing the old rigs and putting them back on line.
However, she said the trolleys may be brought back sometime in the future, if RTA money comes in well and other groups that would benefit from a summer shuttle service are willing to partner with Manitou.
Westside Pioneer article