Like our community’s public safety and health services, transit is an essential public service. Despite the pandemic, public transit plays a vital role in getting healthcare and other essential workers to their jobs and providing families in need with access to medical care, groceries, and other necessities. It’s critical that throughout this pandemic and beyond, we preserve transit as an affordable, reliable, and convenient travel option in our community.
We must advocate for public transit bus services in our communities throughout this time of instability, particularly for our most vulnerable neighbors.
At Via, we’re continuing to operate our local HOP service seven days a week, in partnership with the City of Boulder, the University of Colorado Boulder, and RTD. In 2020, despite reduced ridership, the HOP provided trips to more than 340,000 passengers, remaining a vital lifeline for essential workers, students, and others. And with demand for senior paratransit services down, many Via bus drivers have pivoted to providing much-needed meal and prescription deliveries to our older adult population.
When we enter a post-COVID world, and more people return to riding transit, the need for safe, dependable, and frequent bus service will be as important as ever. Transit is critical to providing our community with equitable mobility options. Hopping on a bus should feel as easy or easier than getting behind the wheel of your car. Also, transportation accounts for the largest share of carbon emissions in the U.S. The vast majority of those emissions—83%—come from the cars and trucks that we drive to the grocery store or deliver our Amazon orders.
Investing in a robust transit system – with a network of fast, frequent, and affordable bus routes – is a cornerstone of our city, region, and state’s transportation strategy to provide travel choices and reduce transportation emissions. We continue to move forward with this strategy on several fronts – from replacing the HOP diesel fleet with zero-emission electric buses to working with municipalities to expand our local and regional bus network as economic conditions and ridership trends improve.
The next time you see the orange HOP bus go by and wonder who’s riding it, remember that it’s our essential workers and most vulnerable residents onboard and that robust public transit service is a critical community need, now and in the future.