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Blueprint for the EcoPass

A look at the campus’ discounted transit program for employees and how AHEC plans to tackle cost increases.

By Cory Phare

March 7, 2019

RTD light rail As of Feb. 1, RTD EcoPass holders saw a modest jump in monthly rates from $25 to $28. Moving forward, however, participants can likely expect annual increases.

In September, the Regional Transportation District Board approved a 16 percent increase in local, regional and airport fares. At the same time, RTD changed the pricing model for its EcoPass program, moving from a per-employee pricing model to one based on use, said Bill Mummert, chief business officer for the Auraria Higher Education Center.

These changes resulted in a 158-percent increase in AHEC’s calendar 2019 EcoPass contract, from $524,000 to $1,356,000. Given the large increase, RTD agreed to a three-year phase-in and a maximum increase of 20 percent in 2019, 20 percent in 2020 and the remainder in 2021.

“The across-the-board base increase affects everyone,” added Rob Byers, director of campus programs for AHEC. “Beyond that, we’re seeing an additional 4-percent increase for 2019 to begin making up for the difference we’ll be facing from this decision.”

Mummert and Byers expect the monthly price structure for 2020 pass holders to be set by November. And even though the contractual costs will continue to rise, the value proposition of the program is still high.

“Right now, the standard monthly regional pass is $200 and the local is $114,” Mummert said. “Even if the price point was $70, that’s still almost 40 percent less than the current lowest rate.”

They also noted that the more pass participants, the further the individual monthly costs are driven down and that taking transit can alleviate the potential parking headaches that can arise from having 6,100 spaces for a campus of 45,000 inhabitants.

“It’s cheaper than a car payment — plus, having the pass in your pocket is a great assurance that you’ll be able to get where you need to get, no matter what,” Byers added.

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