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City to expand bus service 

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The city will soon give bus riders a long-sought-after gift.

Mountain Metropolitan Transit plans to introduce a bus line along Powers Boulevard (Route 23), citywide Sunday bus service, and additional holiday service, starting March 30.

"This is also providing access to those with disabilities," Transit Services Manager Craig Blewitt notes, explaining that the Powers line will be accompanied by paratransit service in the area.

The Powers route will run north from the Citadel Mall transfer station. Stops will be made on side streets, so as not to impede traffic.

Bus service in the city's north end has historically been very limited, and the transit-dependent have said that limits their home and job choices. Henry Allen, leader of the Colorado Springs chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has said he's especially concerned that the lack of bus service on Powers limits the number of jobs that low-income communities can access (see p. 14) — a reasonable assumption given that Blewitt says the Powers corridor is estimated to hold 3,000 jobs.

"You can't continue to pull businesses from the southeast corridor and put them north and then tell the folks down there, 'You just don't want to work,'" Allen said recently. "They can't afford cars like you and me."

A lack of Sunday service citywide has likewise been a problem because it limits bus riders' ability to get to jobs and church services, and to run errands. In addition to Sundays, the city will add service on the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day. That means buses will run 362 days a year, as compared to 255 days a year in 2010.

"This is an empowering moment for the disability community," Patricia Yeager, executive director of the Independence Center, a nonprofit benefiting people with disabilities, writes in an email to the Independent. "We spoke up together, were heard and change occurred."

The total cost for adding Sunday service is $482,000, mostly funded through the dedicated sales tax of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. The Powers route will cost $346,000. About half that cost will be covered by the PPRTA; a federal grant that aims to connect people with jobs is covering the rest of the cost in the first year. Blewitt says the city has the funds to continue the service when the grant expires.

The first meeting to discuss the changes will be held at noon, Tuesday, Jan. 28, at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave.

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