Craig seeks input for proposed regional transit authority

A Steamboat Springs Transit regional bus travels on U.S. Highway 40 near Craig. The city is currently in discussions about creating a regional transportation authority. According to local officials, transportation is one of the city's top priorities.
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Discussion has recently ramped up surrounding the possible formation of a Yampa Valley Regional Transit Authority, or RTA.

Officials in Craig, along with their counterparts in Routt County and Steamboat Springs, are in the midst of a study to determine how residents, visitors and workers in the Yampa Valley could benefit from the formation of an RTA.

On Monday, Craig hosted an RTA open house for interested community members. Mikhail Kaminer, of the consulting group Fehr & Peers, was on hand to present additional information and solicit feedback from local residents.

As part of his presentation, Kaminer displayed information boards detailing potential operational projects, funding mechanisms and infrastructure projects and asked attendees to mark their preferred choices.

Eight operational projects were presented. The majority of the projects focused on bus and transit services, either by creation or expansion of current services in and between Craig and Routt County. Another option was for the creation of a passenger rail line between Craig and Steamboat Springs.

With regard to funding for these projects, eight possible funding sources were outlined including federal and state grants, user fares and fees, RTA enterprise funding, RTA-issued bonds, annual vehicle registration fees, property tax mill levies, visitor benefit taxes and sales/use tax.

Fehr & Peers hosted three additional open houses around the region this week. They will use the input data collected from local residents during those open houses to inform their project priority study. Interested residents can still provide their input by visiting or utilizing a QR code featured in recent editions of the Craig Press.

Kaminer also shared his presentation at the Craig City Council meeting Tuesday. He noted that Craig residents in particular currently have unmet transportation needs. And while top regional priorities include regional transit improvements, roadway concerns, ballot issues and ground transportation to the airport, the top priorities for Craig specifically appear to be establishing an in-town circulator route and increased connections to regional transit outside of commuter trip purposes.

Kaminer also touched on the possibility of a commuter rail line, which he described as one of the “hot topics” of the moment. Although that project may be much larger in scope, multiple council members encouraged Kaminer not to discount rail given its long-term potential and current enthusiasm.

Council member Chris Nichols called transportation one of the city’s top priorities. He observed that upward of 2,000 people commute from Craig every day for work, so City Council and the community are undoubtedly “biting at the bit” to hear about any transportation improvements.

Fehr & Peers plans to continue public outreach efforts through this month, with a final RTA study to be completed by the end of the year. Voter outreach and education would then take place throughout most of 2024, with a potential ballot initiative being presented for the November election.

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