Colorado’s business climate has taken a nosedive over the past decade or so, with Colorado staples like Frontier Airlines,
Qwest CenturyLink, and First Data leaving the area for greener pastures. Big government apologists have tried to explain the disappearing opportunity companies by blaming everything but Colorado’s rising cost of regulation. Two Colorado Springs entrepreneurs may be learning about this regulation firsthand.
On August 31, the city of Colorado Springs discontinued the Front Range Express (FREX), a bus service operating between Denver and Colorado Springs, to save the $425,000 required from the Colorado Springs budget to keep the service running through the end of 2012. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the dynamic duo, Dan Ajamian and Sean Meenan, have formed “New FREX” and are seeking investors and/or bank loans to cover start-up expenses and to purchase the 57-passenger buses needed to launch the venture. The two believe they can improve upon the old FREX business model:
“Ajamian believes New FREX can operate the service profitably if it reduces the number of daily round trips from the 16 throughout the day that the city’s Transit Division had been operating to four trips during peak commuting periods, while increasing fares between $1 and $2.50 per trip. He and Meenan hope to hire back many of the drivers who operated the city-owned FREX service, make the same stops in Colorado Springs, Monument and the Denver area and offer high-speed Internet access to passengers.”
While the two believe they can run the venture more profitably than the government, now they must apply for a permit and wait for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve the proposed route. The process could take up to seven months. If it’s not one government inefficiency, it’s another. While the PUC has stated the two could request an emergency permit if it could show “an immediate and urgent need”, the 200 passengers who relied on FREX for their daily commute remain in limbo. And, that’s to say nothing of the effect that a possible seven-month wait time could have on would-be investors in the project. And, what about the drivers who may have been laid off?
To recap, we have an inefficient government service that has been discontinued, a company willing to step in and improve the process, but the government that couldn’t get it right the first time is now mucking up the process the second time? No wonder our business climate is in Colorado.