By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE–(July 1, 2014) A packed agenda and time considerations on June 17 led the Montrose City Council to postpone a review of the Regional Transit Study prepared by Assistant City Manager Rob Joseph. However, the study itself is already available online for those who wish to familiarize themselves with it prior to Council’s meeting tonight. The completed report also serves as an academic “capstone” for Joseph, who came to the City as a Department of Local Affairs Intern through the University of Colorado at Denver in 2013 and who recently completed his MPA degree.
“We decided not to review the report at our last meeting because we were worn out, and wanted to be fully engaged when we do look at it,” Montrose Mayor Bob Nicholson said. “It is a well-done regional study, and should be considered by the organizations involved; we know that there are a number of people who live here and work in Telluride, and that there are tourists in Telluride who would like to come down and spend the day in Montrose.”
The study is entitled, “Mountain Village/Telluride to Montrose Transit Feasibility Study,” prepared for the Town of Mountain Village, The Town of Telluride and the City of Montrose. Based on a survey of local employers and employees (40 businesses and 228 individuals) in the “client communities,” the report recommends establishment of an intergovernmental agreement and an intergovernmental trans-it agency, and provides a timeline for that process. The report discusses general benefits of transit, with a focus on the employ-ment needs of Mountain Village and Telluride.
“One limitation of the survey was that it did not specifically address commuters and focused more on employees,” the study notes. “…Although it could be argued that one premise of this study is that Montrose residents are commuting to Mountain Village/Telluride for employment and there-fore only Mountain Village/Telluride-based businesses ought to be considered, results indicated that the survey questions were also relevant to Montrose based businesses.”
The study goes on to note that 85 percent of Montrose businesses surveyed noted little or no difficulty retaining employees due to transportation-related issues, but that Montrose companies employing 100 or more people revealed that they may subsidize employee transportation costs.
“As was anticipated, Montrose-based businesses did not generally see the need for a transit system for their employees…however, individual conversations with business owners revealed benefits if employees could ride a shuttle to Mountain Village/Telluride to solicit sales, meet with clients and even perform service calls.”
The Regional Transit Study also notes that it was “intended to determine if a transit system would be supported by local businesses and residents.”
Sharon Fipps, executive director of Mont-rose-based non-profit All Points Transit (which provides a Montrose city bus service and regional Dial-A-Ride services), commented that she has read the study and does not believe that the City intends to compete with All Points Transit for essential Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Funding.
“The City asked us if we want to provide this service, but we have enough on our plate right now,” Fipps said. “I don’t see us participating.
“I see this (the focus of the study) largely as an economic development project; Mountain Village and Telluride want to bring in workers, and Montrose wants to help,” she said.
“This study began with a premise, and ends with that premise–if it’s about jobs, jobs are good-but what does Montrose get out of it? I’m not sure.”
Joseph declined to answer specific questions for the purposes of this article, stating, “I will be going over the study on Tuesday, July 1 during the council meet-ing. After my presentation, there will be discussion and council will allow questions.
“Please consider attending the meeting in order to acquire a complete contextual and accurate understanding of what the study says and does not say and so you have an opportunity to convey your questions and thoughts.”