Attendees of a green car show check out Jeff Troeger's electric Nissan Leaf on Tuesday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The car show was followed by a panel discussion on the future of transportation in Colorado.

Photo by Scott Franz

Attendees of a green car show check out Jeff Troeger's electric Nissan Leaf on Tuesday night at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. The car show was followed by a panel discussion on the future of transportation in Colorado.

Community members intrigued by high-speed rail system envisioned for Colorado

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— The crowd gawked at an old Mercedes that runs on recycled vegetable oil and huddled around a shiny white Nissan Leaf that reportedly costs just $0.02 per mile to run.

But the dozens of people who traveled to the Steamboat Springs Community Center on Tuesday night for a green car show and transportation talk appeared to be more intrigued by the possibility of a high-speed rail system in Colorado.

David Krutsinger, the transit and rail program manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation, was on hand to discuss the latest studies that looked into the feasibility of a 340-mile high-speed rail system that would take travelers from Jefferson County to the Eagle County Airport and from Pueblo to Fort Collins.

CDOT spent $5 million studying a potential rail system and concluded it could be done in the future.

However, the $30.1 billion price tag will keep the project from becoming a reality for the foreseeable future.

"The funding piece is the hardest piece to crack, there's just no question about it," state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a speaker on the transportation panel, told the audience.

Mitsch Bush added she probably wouldn't live to see the rail system completed.

Krutsinger also has suggested the rail system could be decades away.

"To do this thing in the future, maybe in 20 to 50 years, you need to get interest generated and in the pipeline now," Krutsinger told The Denver Post earlier this year.

Talk about the rail system came during a panel discussion hosted by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Although the speakers touched on several other forms of alternative transportation, the audience at the community center appeared to be most interested by the rail system.

One woman asked how feasible it would be in an area of Colorado that is subject to severe winter weather.

Another man suggested that if it didn't come all the way to Steamboat, it wouldn't really mean anything to him.

"How is all of this going to affect the Yampa Valley?" he asked.

Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, said having a rail system along with a new public transportation route that would connect it to Northwest Colorado is "going to affect us both in our quality of life and the choices we have."

She said it could make it easier for tourists to come to Steamboat as well as for residents here to make their trips to the Front Range.

"This is very long term," she said.

Another audience member asked about the rail system's potential impact on wildlife.

The talks about the high-speed rail system were preceded by a presentation about the ways Steamboat Springs Transit has turned to alternative fuels in recent years to cut down on operating costs.

Transit Manager Jonathan Flint went through a long list of things his department has done to save on energy expenses, ranging from the purchase of new diesel hybrid buses to using mostly recycled water when washing the buses.

"Our budget has stayed relatively flat while the cost of fuel and components has gone up," Flint said. "We've had to enact quite a few cost-cutting measures to stay within budget."

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Comments

mark hartless 4 months ago

"The funding piece is the hardest piece to crack, there's just no question about it," state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a speaker on the transportation panel, told the audience.

Funding is ALWAYS the hardest part of utopia... that and getting rid of those who don't share the vision.

"Civilized" countries today brainwash people into their own demise with the notion that "it's for our own good". Riding bikes in the snow is "saving the planet". Carrying groceries by the armload instead of using a bag is "going green" and then there's Marge Simpson's Monorail...

www.dailymotion.com/.../x1evt9w_the-... Despite Marge's opposition, a sly salesman, Lyle Lanley, convinces the town to build a monorail ...

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Scott Wedel 4 months ago

I predict that high speed rail never happens in Colorado.

High speed rail is extremely expensive and there are many other potential routes in the USA connecting far larger cities than those in Colorado. Thus, Colorado is unlikely to be selected for US government funds to build a high speed rail link.

Self driving cars can drive faster closer too each and won't make the driver mistakes that cause traffic jams such as rubber necking or a slower car pulling in front of faster cars forcing the faster cars to hit their brakes. Also, self driving cars can detect that they have bald tires and other mechanical issues and refuse to drive on mountainous roads like I70.

In 20 years, carpool lanes will become self drive lanes

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Fred Duckels 4 months ago

Being for things far out and benefitting the little guy can be a good recipe for politicians as they corner the "mean well " market regardless of any logic involved..

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Fred Duckels 4 months ago

Bob McConnell has promised to get us rail in two years so Dianne can't just take my vote for granted.

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jerry carlton 4 months ago

..02 per mile to run the Leaf for electricity only I assume? No maintenance or new tires required? Anybody know what new batteries run and how long they last? My wild guess with no research or basis would be in the thousands of dollars. My experience with Nissan was very good with a gasoline compact pick-up. I will be really interested to see what happens when the batteries in all these electric vehicles start wearing out.

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John Weibel 4 months ago

They will get recycled, I would guess. Having built an electric car, the cost of running them is far less than gas, even though the transmission loss in the lines. The only issue would be is if there are a lot of lead acid batteries out there gassing off their toxins, which could be a problem, though with other materials that is not an issue, though the batteries are much more expensive and the cost per mile that you would get with a short trip vehicle that results from lead acid batteries.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months ago

Hey Mark, Gas prices $9.00 + per gallon! Euro unemployment rate 11.8%, I could go on. But thank goodness they have trains. Yep, we need to be more like Europe. Actually have rode on their trains (just try to drive in Italy and you will know why most take trains)and appreciate them, but just out of curiosity how do you propose that the USA would ever build much less pay for trains. Is that another "shovel ready" project, or is just more of your sarcasm?

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mark hartless 4 months ago

I love it when progressives hold up Europe as the example.

Europe is still TO THIS DAY living off the seed corn it was given in American blood from WWII and all the way through the cold war.

If Europe had paid for it's own defense over the last 40 years instead of building monorails then perhaps America might be able to afford a couple monorails of our own.

Furthermore, Europe's green energy dreams have smacked the wall of reality and so it must have a viable, dependable energy source (Nat Gas) to actually keep from freezing; windmills and unicorns ain't cuttin' it. This time America can't bail them out because America is too stupid to produce it's own energy, much less export it to Europe so they can tell Putin where to stick it.

Therefore, they are being extorted by Russian to the point that, even when their borders are over-ran and their civillians are shot out of the sky they still wouldn't say s**t if they had a mouthfull.

Yes, I'd say "look to Europe" for the answers!!

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Cresean Sterne 4 months ago

For once, I actualy agree with Mark H. Especially your last statement.

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Scott Wedel 4 months ago

Even if you agree with the idea that we can learn from other countries such as Europe and Asia, then you'd learn that successful train service requires high population density.

So when Colorado has 25+ million population then we should revisit the topic of Colorado High Speed Train service. BTW, Colorado currently has a bit more than 5 million residents so we have a ways to go.

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Scott Wedel 4 months ago

Be better as "... learn from countries in Europe and Asia"

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mark hartless 4 months ago

The problem is that we DON'T learn. Instead we just keep projecting this "If we believe it it can happen" mentality into a world that couldn't care less about our fantasies.

Our enemies are making plans and we are so full of ourselves that we refuse to believe anyone could hate us..."we have enemies?"

History suggests we will pay dearly for that ignorance.

We don't know history. We don't know geography. We refuse to acknowledge basic math. We are devoid of basic social skills such as holding the door and saying "thank you" or giving back the dollar of extra change we got from the store clerk or just saying "I'm sorry, I was wrong...".

We have mountains of information at our fingertips but are woefully unwise.

And... BTW...Europe and Asia are not countries

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jerry carlton 4 months ago

Scott W If we keep welcoming illegal aliens from every country in the world we may be at 25 million before you expected it.

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Tim Keenan 4 months ago

All I know is that the status quo of one Greyhound bus to Denver a day truly sucks. It was three hours late the other day, though we didn't know that until we spent 20 minutes on hold with Greyhound. We were eventually told it'll be there in about two hours, but it might be early, so don't leave the station. To top it off, they make you jump through all kinds of hoops to get a refund. And, the cost of the ticket has gone up to $69 one way. I think I'll take the Alpine next time. Talk about a no-win situation. As someone who can't drive, these are my only options to get out of this town -- unless I want to go to Craig for the day. I wonder if Google is looking for beta testers?

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jerry carlton 4 months ago

Tim I do not what the cost of Alpine is now but when I drove for them, their schedule was pretty well maintained during the spring, summer, fall. Winter, who knows for any transportation?

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Scott Wedel 4 months ago

Please summarize it. It is asking a lot to ask people to watch an hour long documentary in order to understand the point you are trying to make.

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Kieran O'Halloran 4 months ago

Its a doc on how GM went around country buying up trolley companies in major cities in the first half of the 1900's and switching over to bus systems.Trolleys are clean, run on own tracks and are not burdened by lights, traffic, etc. Buses smell (diesel), have to deal with traffic & lights, which cause delays. This lead more people to buy there own vehicles, and with the introduction of the highway system after WWII, this lead to city sprawl. GM was even taken to court over all of this, and basically got away with it. Trust me watch it, its an eye opener.

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mark hartless 4 months ago

And to reward GM the government loaned them a few billion dollars and they then rewarded all of us over the last few years with some of the junkiest cars ever to roll off an assembly line. Billions in recalls and it ain't over yet.

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Tim Keenan 4 months ago

Yeah, I took Alpine back from the airport the other day, and they have a nice new mini-bus type thing with seats that recline! Problem is it's $90 one way. Makes a trip to Denver and back for the weekend an expensive proposition.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 4 months ago

Hey Tim, I think you can register with them - name address etc. and then qualify for "local" special - 10% off. check it out. Any thing helps

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Jeff Kibler 4 months ago

Yes, Alpine is not cheap, yet they're reliable and sometimes the only way home from DIA.

Case in point: I flew into DIA from ORD. The last flight to HDN was cancelled, which any frequent flyer knows happens way too often. I knew just what to do - call up Alpine on my cell and see if any seats were available on the last shuttle home. On most similar occasions Alpine had seats available.

Another time a woman was in tears due to the flight cancellation. I introduced her to Alpine and we both got seats on the last trip to Steamboat.
Even my Dad, in his late 80's has taken Alpine with great success.

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jerry carlton 4 months ago

Been 9 or 10 years since I drove for Alpine but I am glad they are still delivering decent service. I think price was $69 when I drove but the price of everything has gone up, just not wages. If your driver does a good job, do not forget to tip him. Tips were about 35% of my income at Alpine.

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