Eagle signs on to establish regional transportation authority

Eagle County manager hopes to have all municipalities signed on by Oct. 1

Eagle Town Council members listen to a presentation from town staff during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

The town of Eagle approved an agreement last week signing on to establish a regional transportation authority, a move that officials believe will help alleviate workforce concerns.

Eagle Town Council members voted unanimously to approve the agreement at their regular meeting.

Having all the county’s municipalities signed on to the agreement “consolidates overhead costs” in addition to the “consolidation of schedules” across the county’s various bus lines, Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter said in the meeting.

“When you consolidate, you can kind of make sure it all works together in one system,” Reitter said. “It’s also gaining economies of scale when you include multiple people, a bigger taxing pool, if you will.”

When asked for a summary of the pros and cons, Reitter said one disadvantage to the regional transit authority is that it adds on “another special district,” another layer of local government.

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However, regional transit authorities have proven to be quite successful in other regions, she added.

The regional transit authority would also help with the implementation of common goals and philosophies such as environmental sustainability, she said.

The county hopes to have all municipalities signed on to the agreement by Oct. 1 so it can move forward with defining the future of public transportation in the Eagle River Valley, Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll said Thursday.

“…Then we can kick things off from there,” Shroll said. “I think we’re in pretty good shape, I think we’ve got some good synergy.”

The establishment of a regional transit authority is pending voter approval of a November 2022 ballot initiative.

The MOU is a non-legally binding agreement that establishes the intention of municipalities to create a regional transit authority as well as an RTA Formation Committee, an RTA Technical Advisory Committee, and a Community Stakeholder Committee, according to a report prepared by Eagle town staff.

The agreement does come with the expectation that each municipality will find funds to help prop up the regional transit authority in the months and years to come, according to the report.

Eagle is not responsible for expenses in 2021, but a funding proposal asks the town to pitch in $6,343 next year. This figure is considerably lower than what some other parts of the county have been asked to pitch in, Reitter said.

Thus far, the governing bodies of Eagle, Vail, Minturn, Avon and Red Cliff have all approved the memorandum of understanding signing on to the RTA, Shroll said. The Gypsum Town Council will be last to vote on the agreement at its Sept. 28 meeting.

Beaver Creek Metropolitan District is still considering the proposal. The county plans to move ahead with preparations regardless of support from Beaver Creek Metro, if all local municipalities have signed on, Shroll said.

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