State lawmakers introduce bill that would provide free transit for Colorado children

Posted at 8:36 AM, Feb 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-01 10:41:11-05

DENVER — State lawmakers have introduced a bill that seeks to encourage young people to use the Colorado's public transit systems more.

SB 24-032 aims to establish a new grant program that would allow Coloradans ages 19 and younger to ride free year-round in regional transportation districts and transit associations.

The bill has four main agenda points:

  1. Establish the Transportation Legislation Review Committee to produce a proposal for a statewide transit pass.
  2. Make changes to the Ozone Season Free Transit Grant Program.
  3. Establish a youth fare-free transit grant program.
  4. Establish an income tax credit for the purchase of a transit pass.

The Transportation Legislation Review Committee would be tasked with proposing a framework for a statewide transit pass. The committee would be expected to present this proposal to the Colorado General Assembly no later than July of 2026.
The 15-member committee would be comprised of various members of transit agencies from across Colorado, a representative with passenger rail systems, a representative of an organization with a statewide transportation perspective, and two representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation - one who is knowledgeable about the department's inner-city regional bus service and one who is knowledgeable about innovative mobility.

Section Two of the bill seeks to make changes to the Ozone Season Free Transit Grant Program.

The program was established to increase the usage of public transport and reduce driving across the state. Colorado transit agencies, including Mountain Metro Transportation and Pueblo Transit, participate in the program and provide free rides.

The changes to the program would moving it under CDOT purview, ensuring that rides during the spring and summer are not paid for with the free youth fair transit grant funds. To ensure those funds go to young people's free transit passes, the bill would give the state treasurer the ability to transfer $7 million to the program each year in July.

Participating transit associations would be required to apply for grant funding with CDOT. Each transportation authority would then be required to document how the funds were used and submit a summary to CDOT.

Section Four of SB 24-032 would establish an income tax credit for Colorado taxpayers equal to 30% of the amount they spent to purchase one or more transit passes.

To claim the credit, Coloradans would have to include a credit certificate from the department from which they got their transit pass and then attach it to their state tax return.

The bill is next scheduled for a hearing Monday, Feb. 5 with the Transportation & Energy Committee.

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