montbello

A bird's-eye view of the Montbello neighborhood of Denver, Colo.

A pilot program establishing a free community shuttle service is coming to the Montbello neighborhood after the Denver City Council unanimously approved the proposal Monday.

The approved contract will give over $555,000 to Northeast Transportation Connections to run the pilot program, providing free shuttle services every weekday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the neighborhood.

The shuttles will be on-call only, with residents requesting rides via an app and call-in line, like how Uber and Lyft operate. The city estimates the service will provide 70 to 110 trips per day, with an average of 3.5 passengers per vehicle.

“Montbello is a really good place to start these services,” said Senior City Planner Stephen Rijo. “It’s an equity area with a lot of need. … There’s decent RTD service on the periphery of the neighborhood, but the to-and-through service leaves a little to be desired.”

The pilot program is expected to launch in the fall of 2021 and conclude in early 2023 if not renewed. Rijo said there will be options to extend the program through 2027.

The service will cover a 5.2-square-mile zone of the neighborhood from North Chambers Road to Havana Street, in addition to service to and from the Peoria Rail Station.

Similar to Uber and Lyft, the shuttle service will mostly use normal-sized cars: one plug-in hybrid minivan and one battery electric sedan. One large passenger van will also be used to provide wheelchair accessibility.

With the three vehicles all operating at once, Rijo said he estimates response times for rides will be between 15 and 30 minutes. The program’s goal is for 90% of trips to be fulfilled in 15 minutes or less.

The program will target low-income residents without access to cars, residents who use public transit but are far from bus stops and the Peoria Rail Station, and youth with working parents who need to get to and from school and after-school programs.

Rijo said the program will aim to hire drivers from within the Montbello neighborhood. They plan to hire three to six drivers.

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