Boulder County residents represented by the District O seat on the Regional Transportation District board got the chance Monday evening to quiz the seat's five candidates.
County commissioners will pick one of the five to succeed John Tayer, a six-year RTD board member who's resigning to focus on his new job as president and chief executive officer of the Boulder Chamber. The District O seat will be up for election in 2014.
Residents on Monday asked the candidates about their ability to collaborate with the other 14 RTD board members and whether they see rail as a better solution than buses.
Frustration with the long-delayed Northwest Rail Corridor of the FasTracks passenger rail system also was raised. The 41-mile rail line between Longmont and Denver has been the slowest part of FasTracks to emerge. Because of soaring costs, the line is not expected to be complete until 2044.
Candidate Spense Havlick, a former Boulder deputy mayor, said District O hasn't received "full value" from FasTracks.
"We need to catch up," he said.
Several of the candidates said RTD's planned Northwest Area Mobility Study is a good next step to determine the best options for the corridor.
"I'm hoping that study helps us understand the pros and cons and gives us a path forward," former Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne said.
She added that she would "assure that all of the towns and cities in District O are fairly represented" in the study.
Chuck Sisk, Louisville's former mayor, said he wants to see the bus rapid transit plans fully realized, the Eco Pass program protected and the Northwest Mobility Study come to fruition.
"We're not getting our dollar out of the northwest area, but we need to work collaboratively," he said.
Kai Abelkis, sustainability coordinator at Boulder Community Hospital, said the big issues facing RTD are funding and the community's lack of trust. He also wants to generate more community dialogue.
Mary Young, who does outreach for Via Mobility Services, said she would advocate for those who are low-income and dependent on public transit. She said she also wants to see a single pass that would allow access to car share, bike share, rail and bus services.
"Our ultimate goal is to move people -- how we do that is often secondary," she said.
Boulder County commissioners attended the forum, but didn't ask questions. The commissioners may narrow the field further and interview the remaining finalists before casting an official vote Feb. 5.
The RTD's District O board post represents an area that includes Boulder, Louisville, Superior, Lyons, Hygiene, Niwot and Gunbarrel, as well as parts of Longmont lying southwest of Mountain View Avenue and Hover Street.