Mountain Metropolitan Transit Newsletter
January / February 2014
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Dear Friends,
First of all, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and thank you for your continued interest in Mountain Metro news and events. A new year brings an opportunity for change and improvement, whether you are joining a gym, taking a class, or committing to help the environment (and your health) by incorporating a bike or bus into your commute.
For us, a new year brings a chance to freshen up our communications and look critically at how we go about building a community around public transit in our area. That said, we are moving forward into 2014 with more frequent communications that will hopefully give our riders a better sense of what we are doing and how we do it.
We hope you enjoy the new Metro Matters. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. Have a safe and wonderful 2014. 

Vicki McCann
Mountain Metropolitan Transit
How Do They Do It? Dispatch Keeps Buses Rolling in Bad Weather
by Kelley Heider

Back in November, we experienced a nasty ice storm overnight. By morning, the roads were slick and becoming cluttered with colliding cars and people attempting to skate up steep hills in ill-equipped vehichles. I had only been with Mountain Metro for a few weeks, and in the process of obtaining updates to broadcast to riders, I was exposed to the hectic and fascinating world of dispatch. I was impressed--okay, practically mesmerized--by the skill with which our dispatchers dealt with an onslaught of communication from the field. Recently, I sat down with Lead Dispatcher, Chuck Finkle, to discuss what it's like to be in the throes of weather-related chaos.


What exactly is the role of a dispatcher? "Our job is to keep the buses rolling and on time as best we can," says Chuck. For Mountain Metro, that means two dispatchers at a time overseeing the more than 30 buses that are on the roads from morning drive time to evening service (approximately 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.). In order to ensure things run smoothly, dispatchers are connected to customer service phone lines and tuned into three radio channels: one for routes north of Pikes Peak Avenue, one for routes south of Pikes Peak Avenue, and a separate channel for supervisors and maintenance.  

 Lead Dispatcher Chuck Finkle at his desk.


As you can imagine, the dispatcher's job can turn on a dime. When inclement weather hits, "Schedules go out the window," Chuck laughs. "We try to keep them on time and running the best they can." To give you an idea, the issues they face range from late or stuck buses to frozen air lines or brakes to on-the-fly route detours due to impassable roads. On days when weather conditions are bad, many riders may not even notice the difference when they're catching a bus with a 30 minute headway that's 30 minutes behind schedule, because it seems to be on time. In these cases, dispatchers work with operators to hold buses at transfer centers to correct discrepancies.


I ask Chuck what would constitute a service shutdown. "It often depends on the city. If the storm is so bad that level one streets [translation: main arterial roads] cannot be kept clear, then I can't see putting buses out there," he says. Though, Mountain Metro strives to keep the buses running if at all possible. Often, Chuck or his supervisor, Jerry Lindemann, will go out early and drive the roads so they know what to expect, and have firsthand knowledge to make informed decisions about that day's service.


As for what it takes to be a good dispatcher, Chuck emphasizes patience and composure. "It can go from nice and easy to hectic in a heartbeat. You need to be able to change gears real fast," says Finkle, adding that dispatchers need to be calm, cool, and collected. "And they've got to know the streets." 
Proposed Spring Service Changes
For March 30, 2014


Mountain Metro is proposing a number of service changes to take effect March 30, 2014, including the following: 

  • Addition of Sunday and holiday service to routes 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 25. Service would run every 60 minutes from 7:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
  • Addition of evening service (7:25-9:05 p.m.) to Route 9.
  • Addition of Route 23 for service to the Powers Boulevard corridor. Route 23 is a proposed local express route that will originate at the Citadel Mall Transfer Center with service to Barnes Rd. and Tutt Blvd. Route 23 would run every 60 minutes from approximately 6:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.

Three public meetings have been scheduled to inform citizens of proposed changes and gather input before a final decision.


Tuesday, January 28 - Colorado Springs City Hall

Academy Room

107 N. Nevada Ave.

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Tuesday, January 28 - Colorado Springs City Hall

Academy Room

107 N. Nevada Ave.

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


Friday, January 31 - Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado

1460 Garden of the Gods Rd.

Colorado Springs, CO 80907

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.  

Mountain Metro 2014 Budget Projections

Many of our riders inquire about the cost of providing service, whether fixed-route or paratransit. These charts should give you an idea of how we expect our 2014 revenue and operating budget to be apportioned. 

Our riders and advertising provide a very important 19 percent of the revenue for transit operations. The balance of funding is provided by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) sales tax, the Federal government, and the City of Colorado Springs General Fund.  

Mountain Metro Sets Ridership Record
by Richard Marcus

Mountain Metropolitan Transit (MMT) ridership reached a record for the month of October, 2013. In fact, the transit division for the City of Colorado Springs provided 252,738 one-way trips on fixed-route transit in October, the highest single-month ridership since 2009. Total boardings on MMT buses were up 7.3 percent over October, 2012. MMT leadership attributes the jump in ridership to increased service, which provides riders with more options, as well as a marketing push and a trend of more local citizens getting to work on bicycles, walking, and using public transportation.


"With the addition of evening service, Saturday service, and our efforts to improve operational efficiencies, we have been able to give riders more options," said Craig Blewitt, director of MMT. "If you couldn't use the bus system because your job ran into the evening or you needed to work on Saturday, now you can."


According to a report titled "Transportation in Transition" published in December 2013 by public interest groups CoPIRG Foundation and the Frontier Group, Colorado Springs was ranked seventh in the nation for urbanized areas seeing a decline (-3.4%) in the proportion of workers commuting to work by private auto between 2007-2011. When compared to the metropolitan areas with similar percentage declines in commuter auto usage, Colorado Springs' feat is even more impressive. Five of the top seven ranked urbanized areas (New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle) with declines have huge urban bus and rail networks which provide a plethora of alternatives to auto travel.


With the new Sunday service on seven MMT routes and the introduction of the new Route 23 serving the Powers corridor set to embark on March 30, 2014 there will be even more reason for commuters to hop out of their cars and take the bus to work.

Mountain Metro at the Festival of Lights Parade
High Spirits and Sub-Zero Temperatures

We were thrilled to be part of another successful Festival of Lights Parade. Not only did we get the opportunity to spread holiday cheer to the communitiy, but our decked out bus made front page news!

Roger Austin
Employee Spotlight
Congratulations to Facilities Supervisor, Roger Austin, who holds the new record for Manitou Incline ascents in a year with a whopping 719 trips to the summit in 2013. That's an average of two climbs per day.
"I wasn't focusing on breaking or setting any record," says Austin. "I just new I wanted to finish on a special number with meaning...and what better number than our area code?"
Below is a video that was shot when Roger beat the previous record of 601 climbs, held by his friend Greg Cummings, back in November. As for his plans in 2014, Austin says he'll be taking a break from the Incline. Can you blame him?

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