Senate passes bill that proposes spending $58M to ‘incentivize ridership’ on public transit
The Colorado Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would pay for public transit rides during the summer.
If made law, Senate Bill 22-180 would spend $58 million in total on two programs aimed at reducing emissions and increasing public transit ridership. Under the bill, $28 million would go towards a grant program within the Colorado Energy Office to give transit associations funding for rides on bad ozone days. A pilot program within the Colorado Department of Transportation encouraging ridership would receive $30 million, according to the bill’s fiscal note.
The proposal is sponsored by a Democrat coalition of Sens. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, and Reps. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and Matt Gray, D-Broomfield.
“This commonsense bill will encourage transit ridership, reduce harmful emissions, and help us further our climate goals while giving Colorado families cleaner, healthier air to breathe,” Winter said in a statement.
Last year, Colorado recorded more than 30 consecutive days of poor air quality resulting from wildfires around the state. In early August 2021, Denver’s air quality was ranked as the worst in the world, according to IQAir, a global air quality monitoring nonprofit.
To address the state’s poor air quality, SB22-180 would create a program to “incentivize ridership on state-run transit services,” according to the bill’s text.
Hinrichsen said the purpose of the incentive is to hopefully cut down on the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted during the summer.
“The top emitter of carbon is our transportation sector, and a key way to address it is to increase multimodal options and incentivize ridership on our transit system,” he said.
Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank, told The Center Square in an interview that the bill is “wasteful” and takes money away from projects that could improve Colorado’s roads and traffic flows.
“Better road systems would do more to alleviate the stop-and-go traffic which is most polluting,” Caldara said. “We’re not going to solve the problem by siphoning money away from roads to pay for more public transit.”
The bill is set to be considered by the House of Representatives.
This article was originally posted on Senate passes bill that proposes spending $58M to ‘incentivize ridership’ on public transit