A new regional bus service connecting Fort Collins and Greeley and their respective university campuses is scheduled to launch Jan. 2.
The Poudre Express will ride seven times a day — four trips in the morning and three in the afternoon — Monday through Friday. Buses will make stops in Greeley, Windsor and Fort Collins.
The service will be operated by Greeley-Evans Transit, or GET. It is designed to accommodate commuters, especially students attending Colorado State University or the University of Northern Colorado.
Daily service will begin with a 5 a.m. departure from GET’s Transportation Center. The first departure from the CSU Transit Center is scheduled at 6:40 a.m.
A one-way trip between the Greeley transportation center and the CSU Transit Center is scheduled to take one hour, 18 minutes. A one-way fare will cost $1.50, although students with university IDs may ride free of charge.
The 40-foot buses will be equipped with WiFi and USB electrical outlets, said Darren Davis, transit manager for GET. Seats will be extra-cushy to make the long ride comfortable.
“We want it to be attractive to students,” Davis said. “They can do homework or get on their phones while they are on the bus.”
In Fort Collins, Poudre Express will stop at the Harmony Transit Center as well as CSU and at the intersection of Mulberry and Mason streets. Riders will be able to transfer to Transfort routes, including the MAX bus-rapid transit line.
The service will be free to all during its first month to encourage ridership, Davis said.
An estimated 14,000 people commute daily between Fort Collins, Greeley and Windsor, according to a city memo. Almost 3,000 students and faculty commute between Fort Collins and Greeley.
Aaron Fodge, alternative transportation manager at CSU, said he expects the new route will be successful. It will connect on both ends to well-established transit systems, allowing travelers to reach many locations.
“It’s going to take longer than driving a personal vehicle, but the limited number of stops should make it tolerable for the commuting rider,” Fodge said.
Poudre Express will be the third regional transit route in the area. The FLEX route operated by Transfort connects communities along the U.S. Highway 287 corridor. The state-operated Bustang route runs from Fort Collins to downtown Denver.
In 2017, the last year for which ridership data are available, FLEX had 205,753 riders; Bustang had 75,191, according to the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization.
A new transit route takes a few years to become well-known and established, said Will Jones, deputy public works director for Greeley. The ridership goal for Poudre Express in its first year is 60,000.
Poudre Express is expected to cost $565,000 in operating and capital expenses in its first year. It will be funded through contributions from Windsor ($115,000), Fort Collins ($100,000), CSU ($20,000), Greeley ($110,000), anticipated fares ($20,000) and a Colorado Department of Transportation grant ($200,000).
The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday approved an intergovernmental agreement formally establishing the route.
Kevin Duggan is a senior columnist and reporter.
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