The Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs and the city are floating the idea of extending downtown parking meter fee hours to include weekday and weekend nights to raise money to save the free downtown shuttle.

While no plan is certain yet, the idea was born of the downtown partnership’s desire to continue service of the Downtown Area Shuttle or DASH, better known as the free downtown shuttle, which runs regular routes on Tejon Street between Colorado College and the Park and Ride at Interstate 25 and Tejon.

Funding for the DASH service is running out, and downtown partnership officials asked city parking administrator Greg Warnke to help find a financial solution to save the shuttle.

Warnke said raising meter fees wasn’t an option, because they had been recently raised in 2006. The only solution he could think of was to start charging evening visitors to downtown for parking.

The idea is to begin metered parking one hour earlier, at 8 a.m., and extend it through 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Meter fees after 6 p.m. would be reduced from $1 an hour to 50 cents an hour. Sundays would remain free.

The plan would ideally generate enough money to continue the DASH service at 50 percent its current schedule.

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Warnke this week embarked on a campaign, talking to the Downtown Development Authority and the Downtown Marketing Committee, to test sentiment for the idea.

“It’s been mixed,” he said. “Some of the retailers whose customers have been paying for parking all along think it’s time for the nighttime crowd to pay its fair share.”

But, Warnke knows restaurant and bar owners might not be receptive to that idea.

He plans to talk to that group this week or next.

If the downtown consensus is supportive of the idea, Warnke will take the idea before City Council on April 13.

Saving the DASH is important to many downtown proponents because it could affect Colorado Springs eligibility for federal money to help pay for a streetcar rail service that would run between downtown and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“I really don’t have a dog in that fight,” Warnke said. “But it’s a service the downtown partnership has been working for a long, long time and they feel it’s a value to downtown and they don’t want to lose it.”


  1. I have so many friends that hate coming downtown because of the expense of the meters now. They’ve just recently doubled their rates for parking tickets. Now they’re proposing this? I thought the downtown partnership was supposed to be Pro-business. I guess they’ve hurt the retailers downtown enough so they’re moving onto the restaurants and bars.

  2. Changing the parking meter times to include the evenings will only drive more business out of down town. Do those who believe the evening crowds need to “pay their fair share” realize we have options in the outer ring of the city, where there are no meters? There must be another way to fund the Dash service. How many people actually use Dash anyway?

  3. I am a huge supporter of our downtown and am happy to invest in improving it. I am even happy to feed the meters at night. My question is, are we taxing those who actually use the DASH?
    The downtown shuttle has been nicknamed the “Bum Bus”. It seems that this free shuttle has become the commuter vehicle of choice for our downtown residents who have no address. If this is the case then we are taxing people who will receive no benefit. Perhaps changing the shuttle from free to cheap will actually make it less attractive to our local panhandlers who want a soft, warm place to sit and make it more appealing to people who are downtown to do business (other than panhandling) and work. Charge me $.50 and let me use my Easy Park card. Dash has good ridership but who are we actually serving and who should be paying for it?

    My other concern is; the meters downtown range from 30 minutes to 4 hours as their limits. Will we see people leaving restaurants and bars to move their cars in 30 minutes or an hour after arriving? That would really disrupt a nice evening and make downtown a less attractive destination.

  4. Will this promote people to drink and drive? Instead being able to park your car, have a few drinks with friends, call a cab and leave your car overnight. Will people decide the ticket, boot or tow is worth it?

  5. Good question, Trevor. Parking officials say the meters could be programmed to allow four-hour blocks of after-hour parking time to be purchased at one once.

    And, of course, meter readers will have to work later in the evening to enforce parking laws.

  6. I think we have done enough to drive out businesses from downtown. II think this would push people to go to non-metered bars and restaurants where parking isn’t a hassle.

  7. I agree with Trevor. Let people who use DASH pay a minimal fee and that will determine the market for it. Charging for parking at night will cost businesses customers and patrons will simply go elsewhere or simply stay at home. We need ideas that drive business here, not away. The solution of charging for parking all night in downtown will have many more negative consequences then positive ones.

  8. I completely disagree with charging longer hours…downtown is already hard enough to park in for fear of a $20 parking ticket AND 25 cents for 15 minutes is ridiculous…we already don’t hold as many meeting downtown because of parking…now people will not come down for night and weekends to hang out… this is getting out of hand!

  9. This will definitely have a negative effect on downtown. And not just after hours–several business meetings and networking groups meet in downtown restaurants before 9AM. This will only help drive out these business people to non downtown venues.

    As for after hours, people are tired of paying to come downtown and this will only reinforce the idea that downtown is not a place to come. Too inconvenient. And the city will have to pay someone overtime to patrol the streets at night. Altogether a horrible idea.

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