June 30, 2016
Mountain Metro Transit, Colorado Springs’ Bus Service announced their proposed changes for Fall 2016 to be implemented in September. This proposes two options for the routes through ONEN:
- Option 1: Move one route from Nevada Avenue to Weber Street while leaving a route on Nevada. This is the chosen option of the Transit Coalition because it keeps the two routes separated by one (1) block. The theory is that this small separation will still function as 15-minute service because if you miss a bus on one route you can walk one (1) block to catch the next bus on the other route. In reality this is unproven. This theory relies on buses following a strict schedule, not always a guarantee on busy Nevada Avenue, and bus patrons’ willingness to walk to the other street and risk missing the bus again. It also assumes that the bus route actually goes to the final destination. For example, to travel to the UCCS Campus, you must take route 9 that only arrives every 30 minutes. In this case it does not matter how close the routes are as there is only one route that serves the UCCS campus.
- Option 2: Move one route to Wahsatch Avenue to serve the Bon Shopping Center and the other shops, medical service, and charitable organizations down Wahsatch Avenue using existing bus infrastructure, and move the second route to stay on Cascade Avenue for the most direct route downtown, also using existing bus infrastructure. This is the choice of the ONEN Transit Committee and 142+ residents of Colorado Springs (as of the writing of this post). This option keeps the 15-minute bus service at points north and south of ONEN while respecting the ONEN Master Plan and our Historic Districts by getting buses off of our busiest north-south arterial street — North Nevada Avenue.
Option 1: Nevada/Weber
The Nevada/Weber option keeps route 9 (UCCS) on Nevada and moves route 19 (Park-and-Ride by University Village Shopping Center) to Weber Avenue. Although there are some merits to this option (keeps a direct route downtown and a route closer to the Bon Shopping Center), the committee feels these objectives are better served by option 2. In the opinion of the ONEN Transit Committee, the only perceived advantage of this option is the assumption that the two routes are close enough together to still function as a combined 15-minute service through the Old North End. This assumption is yet to be proven.
Besides the fact that Weber and Nevada ranked 3rd and 4th out of the four (4) north-south minor arterial roads by the analysis of the ONEN Transit Committee, disadvantages of this option include:
- Violates the ONEN Master Plan and City ordinance by keeping buses on the street that is already ‘excessively overloaded’ with non-local traffic.
- Takes buses past the front of Steele Elementary School, adding to a very chaotic, and sometimes controversial, drop-off and pick-up routine.
- Places buses on the two streets that do not currently have ADA infrastructure.
- Adds to the safety issues that already makes Nevada Avenue through ONEN the deadliest stretch of road in Colorado Springs.
Option 2: Cascade/Wahsatch
This option is the plan created by the ONEN Transit Committee after a thorough analysis of the best north-south minor arterial streets for buses through our neighborhood. This analysis considered many criteria including:
- How would the change better serve the ONEN Master Plan?
- How would the change affect safety?
- How would the change affect efficiency?
- How would the change best connect local businesses to bus riders?
- How would the change best serve the surrounding neighborhoods?
Wahsatch and Cascade scored 1st and 2nd out of the four (4) possible streets. This is the basis for the ONEN Bus Plan and has the following advantages over the Nevada/Weber option:
- Wahsatch Avenue is the best route to serve the local amenities utilizing the existing ADA infrastructure. Although Weber passes by the back of the Bon Shopping Center, the existing sheltered stops on Wahasatch Avenue serve the entire shopping Center in the front of all stores with existing easy and safe access. We conclude that Wahsatch Ave is the best and safest route for connecting bus patrons with the local amenities within the neighborhood.
- Cascade Avenue is the most direct bus route out of the four (4) north-south arterial streets, and it has existing ADA infrastructure. Although Nevada is the same distance as Cascade, the +250% additional car traffic on Nevada Avenue over Cascade Avenue makes Cascade the more efficient route. Furthermore, Cascade passes through the Colorado College campus on a safer street for pedestrians, keeping buses off of Nevada Avenue through Colorado College. This will become more important as Colorado College adds student housing on the east side of Nevada Avenue.
- Increases safety by reducing the occurrence of car and pedestrian accidents on busy and deadly Nevada Avenue. As detailed on our blog post about safety issues, the narrow lane widths combined with the majority of the car traffic in our neighborhood, make this deadly stretch of Nevada Avenue even more dangerous. In fact, there has already been a bus related accident on Nevada Avenue in the first two (2) months of operation. We don’t need a Traffic Engineering degree to know that by placing buses on the busiest street, safety is going to decrease. Common sense tells us that when a bus cannot fully pull out of a traffic lane on a busy car street, the cars being blocked by the bus are going to try to change lanes and go around the bus. When there are 2.5 times the cars on the road, this greatly increases the chance of a car-to-car collision. Furthermore, as cars try to return to the right lane after passing the bus, this once again magnifies the chance of collisions. This is precisely what happened on Nevada as detailed by this blog post. A car trying to pass the bus was trying to return to the right lane in order to make a right turn on Uintah Street. Unfortunately for him, he got caught between the bus and stopped traffic. Was the bus at fault? No. Could this have happened on Cascade? Yes, but there is likely to be more of this type of accident on Nevada over Cascade.
- Respects the ONEN Master Plan and City ordinance (law) by encouraging the distribution of non-local traffic while encouraging alternatives to automobile traffic within and through the neighborhood. The City has argued that since Cascade is the 2nd busiest street, any option that places buses on Cascade is in violation to our plan. According to the latest traffic counts made earlier this year, the current traffic distributions is as follows: Cascade 20%, Nevada 54%, Weber 10%, Wahsatch 16%. We do not feel that 20% of the traffic is “excessively overloaded.” In fact, Cascade still carries significantly less then 25% of the traffic, which is the theoretical perfect distribution value. Therefore it is not a violation of the ONEN Master Plan to place buses on Cascade; however, there is no question that placing any additional non-local traffic on the excessively-overloaded Nevada Avenue is a violation of the ONEN Master Plan.
- Removes Nevada Avenue as MMT’s preferred route for future high-capacity transit like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or light rail on a dedicated transit lane down Nevada Avenue. High-capacity transit options are incompatible with the ONEN Master Plan on any of our streets as they are too great of an impact to our historic districts. We must insist that MMT remove the possibility of using high-capacity transit down the Nevada core corridor. This is likely the real reason MMT wants to keep buses on Nevada Avenue.
As stated before, the earlier analysis performed by the ONEN Transit committee (made up of representatives from all four north-south minor arterial streets) ranked these streets as follows: 1) Wasatch Avenue, 2) Cascade Avenue, 3) Weber Street, and 4) Nevada Avenue. Option 1 (Weber/Nevada) uses the worst two streets according to our analysis. While option 2, the choice of the ONEN Transit Committee, uses the top two streets. Below is a table comparing the pros and cons of the two options:
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