Vail Daily column: Transit improves with collaboration
February 27, 2014
Let's define collaboration as working together to achieve shared goals.
Easy enough. Now, how do we successfully implement collaboration in a hyper-competitive environment to ensure that everyone benefits from working together?
Consider the Avon Regional Transportation Facility as a perfect case study for collaboration. In this example, our shared goal is regional transit needs and fulfilling the need for a transit facility in the center of the county.
A bit of history first. The vision for this project started more than 15 years ago when Jane Burden, Avon's transit superintendent and David Johnson, formerly a transit planner for ECO Transit (and now with Roaring Fork Transportation Authority) recognized the need for a transit facility since Avon's buses were stored outside, exposed to the elements year round. This caused faster than normal depreciation and significant time idling to warm up during the winter months. ECO buses were stored overnight in Gypsum before traveling from west to east within the valley without commuters (known as "deadheading") before picking up passengers.
A transit building in Avon would extend the life of the bus fleet, reduce bus maintenance and mileage costs and add capacity to our regional transit system. Each of these benefit the taxpayers and the community serviced by the transit system.
Fast forward to 2010 when Avon and Eagle County partnered (collaborated) to fund the design of the transit facility. The project was awarded several federal and state grants to help pay for the majority of the professional services and construction of the transportation-related elements of the project.
The final design resulted in a project that could be built in phases and allow for future expansion as transit demand grew. The work of many individuals resulted in a building that houses 24 buses and can expand to include four more vehicles. The facility includes offices, a meeting room, radio dispatch station, wash and service bay and break room. The building also features several green qualities including; recycled asphalt, a storm-water management system and an energy efficient HVAC system. It was also built using made-in-the USA materials.
Case in Point
This is an excellent example of our local governments collaborating to fulfill a need and using our tax dollars at a state and federal level to benefit our community. Additional collaboration across many different organizations, both public and private, has helped to make the Avon Regional Transportation Facility a great case study for the benefits of collaboration.
• This facility represents the partnerships Avon has with agencies throughout the valley. The modular buildings that were once on this site are now being used by Eagle River Water and Sanitation District in another example of a working partnership.
• As our community prepares to welcome the world in 2015, we have a world-class transit facility to accommodate our bus fleet. The town of Avon is working with Vail Valley Foundation for this complex to function as the transportation hub for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. In its first season, it has demonstrated its usefulness and functionality, operating as a central transit hub for the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup.
• In the future, it's not hard to envision an Interstate 70 commuter bus operating out of this transit complex to accommodate the ever-growing transit demands of the community.
Ultimately, this project benefits not only Avon's transit division, but the community as a whole. It relieves traffic on I-70 and U.S. Highway 6. It links affordable housing, commercial, pedestrian and bike trails to transit. It improves the quality of life for the community through greater transit mobility, connectivity, convenience and reduced traffic. It decreases diesel fuel consumption by eliminating deadhead miles and outdoor idling, and it cuts CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
That is collaboration at its finest.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.