Wednesday, October 16, 2013

5 Reasons the EcoPass is Important to our Community Resiliency

Location: Nederland, CO 80466, USA
The line for the first escorted 'N' Bus after the flood.
(photo by Shelley Olds)
After the flood closed Boulder Canyon, the Nederland RTD 'N' Bus route was suspended, until we could organize an alternate route, then an escorted service through the canyon, and ultimately restore service completely.

The event highlighted several aspects of the N Bus route, the Nederland EcoPass Program, and how they contribute to the Nederland community's resiliency:

The N Bus is a Priority:

Our regional partners, CDOT, RTD, Boulder County Transportation, and Via Mobility made restoring bus service to Nederland a priority in the aftermath of the storm. I believe we can count on continued support in the future.

There are many local residents that receive an EcoPass from their place of employment such as NCAR, Ball Aerospace, Boulder County, CU, and the BVSD. Combined with the EcoPass program, Nederland has the highest per capita use in RTD. This steady demand in ridership can lead to increased service.

Providing transportation options for our permanent residents' employment, enhances our local economic resiliency.

Everyone Benefits from the Nederland EcoPass:

The EcoPass Program increased ridership by 45%
On the first day when the escorted bus service began after the storm, the lines for the N Bus wrapped around the small utility building, and all the riders were accepted. The use of the N Bus has not diminished since then.

In the past year and a half, the EcoPass pilot program showed a 45% increase in ridership, and saved residents on regional trips like sports events in Denver or the airport. Nederland Area Seniors have found benefits from transportation for prescriptions and appointments. School age students have found it useful for programmed activities and meeting friends. Fixed, or low income households, and people with disabilities, have found the EcoPass to be essential to their livelihood. College students and commuters have found the Nederland EcoPass valuable in reducing their travel expenses.

Because the EcoPass benefits a diverse array of users, our community is more capable of adapting to challenges, and maintaining resiliency.

The EcoPass Reduced Traffic:

Already reduced 90.3 Metric Tons of Carbon Emissions
Once the N Bus was escorted through Boulder Canyon after the storm, it showed how we can efficiently transport people between Nederland and Boulder without cars. The canyon closure provided an example of just how many cars are offset by the EcoPass. Now that the canyon is open to cars, the EcoPass continues to reduce the same amount of traffic.
[See AlsoThe N Bus Rides Again]
The Nederland EcoPass pilot program already reduced over 250,000 Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in Boulder Canyon, making the canyon safer for those using cars, trucks, and delivery/emergency vehicles. The reduced usage also extends the life of road maintenance. 

Landlords have already experienced lower vacancy rates and the EcoPass is a direct benefit for their tenants. Building permits for new homes and remodels within town limits had increased before the storm. Some displaced people from the flood have found temporary housing in Nederland, and the N bus is a critical component if their cars have also been impacted by the flood.

The EcoPass is a more sustainable alternative for transportation in Nederland. The pilot program has already reduced carbon emissions by over 90.3 metric tons, for cleaner air for all residents.

The Popularity of the N Bus Goes Both Directions:

When Boulder Canyon closed after the storm, our local businesses immediately felt the impact and laid-off workers. Now that the N Bus schedule has been restored, we are seeing just how many riders come up to our local businesses.

During the pilot program, reliable, cost effective routes brought people to the area for outdoor activities. Event coordinators had successfully recommended using RTD to avoid traffic and parking congestion. The bus stops are centrally located through town for easy access to all local businesses. The local economy saw a 7.3% increase in sales tax during the EcoPass pilot program. The N Bus contributes to the resiliency of our local economy.

The EcoPass Brings Value to Our Community:

The Nederland EcoPass Adds Value
The Nederland Board of Trustees examined several options for funding the EcoPass, and determined that the EcoPass Public Improvement District gave local residents the best value and the least expensive option for local property owners. The Board of Trustees, recognized the pilot program's widespread public support, passed Resolution 2013-07 in support of the EcoPass ballot question 5D, and requested to develop the administration of the program to better serve the local population.
[See AlsoNederland EcoPass Moves Forward]
This ballot measure 5D expressly requires voter approval before any future increase in current tax rates can occur, and expires after ten years. As an added measure of accountability, the Board of Trustees have proposed that the new EcoPass Improvement District board would be required to produce an annual report, illustrating how the funds are spent, as a Component Unit of Boulder County's Audit. 

Ballot measure 5D seeks voter approval to increase property taxes, estimated at $14.85 per $100,000 of assessed residential property. The tax will be collected starting in 2014 along with regular property taxes. The average 2012 value of a property in the district is $286,000. The estimated cost to such a property would be $42 per year. The cost of such an EcoPass would cost over $1,900 per person in each household.

The Nederland Board of Trustees wanted to make sure that the EcoPass Program itself was resilient and sustainable.
[See AlsoBoulder County Seeks Nederland EcoPass Board Applications]

[Here is a Video Valediction] This is downtempo group, Zero 7 performing 'In The Waiting Line' on the BBC (2001). [What is a Video Valediction?]
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