Eagle Valley Regional Transportation Authority Board: RTA will bring meaningful improvements to county’s mass transit system
Residents recently voted to improve Eagle County’s transportation infrastructure through the formation of a regional transportation authority. We are proud to serve on the newly created board for the RTA, passionately bringing our collective expertise to reimagining public transportation in the valley. While we belong to different jurisdictions, our goal on this board is to make sound decisions regarding regional transportation as one combined team. Our first meeting was on Dec. 16, and we will continue to meet regularly moving forward to deliver the transit improvements our community has asked for.
We are excited by the new RTA’s potential to enhance regional collaboration and cost-sharing, improve our transportation and transit systems, and better address the needs of our workforce, employers, residents and visitors. A unique feature of an RTA is its central focus on transportation. Our discussions here will be focused on the needs of our riders, and this new forum will improve our ability to make the right decisions and quickly see them through.
Forming an RTA was a conscious decision to change the way we plan for and fund transportation in our region. This was about more than adding more money to the ECO Transit budget. This was about creating a new structure that can better leverage the substantial resources our community already dedicates to transit, that has more flexibility to make transit-specific decisions, and that is more competitive in attracting federal grant dollars.
The purpose of the RTA is to support regional transit services, defined as services that connect one or more local jurisdictions. ECO Transit, as the county’s current regional transportation provider, will form the backbone of the RTA. For the immediate future, current ECO Transit services and routes will be maintained using existing funding.
New funding generated by the RTA will be earmarked for the enhancements highlighted in the RTA proposal approved by voters, including the creation of a fare-free zone, new express routes and support for increased air service. One of our first actions as a board will be to create a strategic plan that prioritizes these enhancements, establishes implementation timelines and allocates available funding. In addition, we will begin the conversation about how best to transfer the functions of today’s ECO Transit to the new RTA.
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The RTA will not replace or provide an alternate funding mechanism for our local, in-town transit systems. In-town transit services run by Avon, Vail, and Beaver Creek, will continue to operate within their jurisdictions while benefiting in numerous ways from their membership in the RTA. Via the new structure, town transit systems will be able to share technical expertise, transit project management and maintenance resources; coordinate technology and equipment purchases; access additional grant funding; and leverage regional route realignments to reduce redundancy and free up local funding for other purposes.
We know you want to see results fast. So do we. However, the RTA is a new organization with a fresh funding stream that will be responsible for delivering these transit enhancements. Due to the nature of sales tax collections, funding to provide the proposed service enhancements will not become available until March 2023, and all decisions about where and how to allocate these funds will need to be made by the RTA board.
Of the proposed service enhancements, some will be able to be implemented more quickly than others. Once funding levels and allocations are determined, we will work with ECO Transit and other partners to begin delivering service improvements as quickly as possible. Our goal is for the public to begin seeing meaningful enhancements before the end of 2023. We look forward to sharing many exciting developments as we move forward.
The Eagle Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors
Amy Phillips, Town of Avon, Mayor and RTA Board Chair
Jeanne McQueeney, Eagle County, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners and RTA Board Vice Chair
Janet Bartnik, Council Member, Town of Eagle
Earle Bidez, Mayor, Town of Minturn
Barry Davis, Council Member, Town of Vail
Dave Eickholt, Board of Directors, Beaver Creek Metropolitan District
Bob Hill, Trustee, Town of Red Cliff