Driving Force Behind The Lift Leaving Winter Park

Can you remember a time without the bright colored Lift buses driving around town? It’s hard to imagine how our community looked without a robust transit system carrying residents and visitors.

Unfortunately, the Town of Winter Park is losing a key player in the transformation of our transit system. Michael Koch, Winter Park Transit Manager since 2016, informed the Town that he has accepted a senior position with a nationally known transit consulting firm. He will be departing in October 2020.

Before 2016, Winter Park’s transit system was simply a local resort-operated shuttle service. Under Michael’s management, it has grown to a regional system serving the workforce and visitors of the Fraser Valley. The Lift carried over 520,000 riders in 2019.

“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work in this beautiful community if it weren’t for the support of our residents in passing the transit sales tax in 2015,” commented Michael. “I feel I was able to bring my passion for transit and work with our locals to develop this renowned system. Deciding to move on was difficult with the unprecedented support the system receives from our community, Town Council, and our funding partners, and with a docket of exciting projects on the horizon. It’s been an absolute pleasure serving the Fraser Valley, I’ll never forget this experience.”

In his four years with the Town of Winter Park, Michael has made a lasting impact on local and regional transportation. Accomplishments from his time in Winter Park include:

  • Overseeing the transition of the bus system from Winter Park Resort to the Town. This entailed managing contracts and developing operating compliance plans, acquiring ADA accessible buses, creating the initial routes and schedules, and working with the community in developing “The Lift” brand.
  • Securing intergovernmental agreements with the Towns of Fraser and Granby for funding and the provision of transit services to these communities, which allowed the system to transform into a regional service.
  • Forming the Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) consisting of the key funding partners to provide a public venue for citizens to offer comments and suggestions regarding system operations.
  • Acquiring a Special Use Permit and lease agreement from Grand County for the construction of a transit maintenance facility on property adjacent to County Road 5.
  • Securing approximately $19M of grant revenue for the Town. This includes $14.6M of funding for the planned transit maintenance facility and grant funding for upgrading approximately a third of the Town’s fleet.
  • Managing the Transit Department’s annual budget of $2.1 million.
  • Receiving the “Colorado Resort Agency of the Year” award by the Colorado Association Transit Agencies (CASTA) in both 2017 and 2019.
  • Representing the Town of Winter Park at CDOT Regional meetings, the I-70 Coalition, Transit & Rail Advisory Committee, and the Regional Transportation Coordinating Council to ensure our community has a voice on regional and state levels.

The Town will soon begin a nation-wide recruitment process to find a new Transit Manager before Michael’s departure in October. This is an excellent opportunity for a transit professional to lead one of the top transit agencies it the state of Colorado. The job listing will be posted on www.wpgov.com/jobs in the coming weeks.