Moving a Region Forward
As Colorado and San Miguel County populations grow dramatically, so does the need for efficient transit services to help residents travel throughout the region. Here in San Miguel County, SMART (the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation) is becoming an indispensable part of our local transportation system.
SMART Expands in Lawson Hill
SMART provides transit service for residents, commuters, and students in the San Miguel region. As a regional system serving diverse communities in four southwestern Colorado Counties (San Miguel, Montrose, Ouray, and Dolores), with an estimated annual ridership of over 50,000, SMART buses and vans provide transportation into Telluride from Norwood, Rico, Sawpit/Placerville, Montrose, and Ridgway. Service expansions are being planned to extend the regional transit network to Nucla/Naturita, Ophir, and Two Rivers/Ilium.
Vital Services for a Growing Region
Approved by regional voters in 2016, SMART has steadily grown transit services since this time and is dedicated to enhancing the lives of regional commuters and those who depend on transit for employment, healthcare, education, and recreation. Currently, the primary trip purpose for SMART riders is accessing employment and essential services. To fulfill the promise of the organization, SMART is currently working to grow a transportation system that will meet the needs of residents throughout the region.
Essential Service. That’s SMART.
As recently illustrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, SMART provides an essential service that exists to serve the entire regional community. SMART buses have continued to run every day on each route throughout the pandemic, providing transportation for essential workers and those who depend on SMART to travel safely and efficiently throughout the region.
A SMART Central Location
To facilitate the growth of the system, serve more riders in more places, and to care for the fleet of vehicles it is assembling, SMART is under contract to purchase two buildings located in Lawson Hill at 135 and 137 Society Drive. This central location will provide critical building infrastructure with space for a fleet maintenance facility and an adjacent operations facility. This location offers us the ability to properly safeguard our community investments and services so that SMART can continue to strengthen and expand the regional transit network.
The SMART Plan
When the 2019 SMART Strategic Operating Plan was completed, Lawson Hill was identified as the ideal location for an operations and maintenance facility. This location and square footage offered a perfect solution for SMART’s current and future needs that no other facility in the area could provide.
SMART is leveraging local tax dollars with a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that is paying approximately 75% of the costs of the buildings. This will save SMART taxpayers money over time when compared to securing land and building an entirely new facility at two to three times the cost of the Lawson Hill properties. This purchase provides efficient and effective use of SMART tax dollars.
While large facilities like this are scarce in the region, these two properties have been on and off the market for years without a buyer. SMART’s Board considered all reasonable alternatives before negotiating a free-market contract with the seller. SMART has spoken with the current tenants regarding their existing lease, ensuring they are aware of the new ownership and long term plans. It is the goal of SMART to facilitate a seamless transition by honoring the current lease term to its end in 2.5 years (February of 2023). At that point, if SMART is not yet ready to transition into space, they have informed the tenants that an extension of the lease may be possible.
As an essential, voter-approved service to the entire regional community, SMART’s Board is pleased to have entered into this contract to secure a permanent home for its administrative and maintenance facilities in the core of its service area. This will prove to be a vital step in securing the future of SMART transit in our County.