Glenwood studies bus-stop accessibility
January 17, 2007
Aspen, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS Glenwood Springs’ in-town bus service already is becoming immensely popular. A new study plans to look at how it can be made more convenient.The city plans to hire a contractor to create a bike/pedestrian transit access plan for Ride Glenwood Springs.The study won’t address the large-scale route and service-area questions that the City Council has been grappling with for years. Rather, it will look more narrowly at how existing bus stops can be made more accessible to riders, through physical improvements, minor adjustments in their locations and other means.City engineer Mike McDill suspects he already knows a few of the suggestions that will be made, from improving a problem bus stop on 27th Street to putting more bike racks on buses and at stops.Still, he thinks the outside perspective will be helpful in identifying shortfalls in a system that, judging by ridership numbers, largely seems to be running well.”It looks to us like everything’s working, but there might be something out there that’s obvious to most people and not obvious to us to improve or help that,” McDill said.Buoyed by eliminating fares, boosting service frequency and focusing routes on core areas, annual ridership grew 44 percent in 2005 and 77 percent last year, reaching 379,149. But McDill recognizes the system has room for improvement.”We have to be cautious not to say, ‘Well, that’s as good as it gets,'” he said.McDill said he believes the study will cost about $17,000, with 80 percent coming from federal/state transportation funds and the city covering the rest. It will look at things such as accessibility to the disabled, and how well bus stops tie in with sidewalks and bike paths.”It allows us to take a look at the pedestrian/bike corridors as they relate to our various bus stops,” he said.He said a bus stop on the south side of 27th Street provides a “glaring example” of where improvements could be made. It’s not served by a sidewalk and there is barely a place to stand because of the slope of the land there, he said.”You have to be fairly agile to be able to get to that bus stop,” McDill said.City Council member Larry Beckwith had questioned the need for the study when it came before council. But McDill believes it won’t just point out obvious problems such as the 27th Street bus stop, and the city will get some good ideas for improving service out of it.”It’s good to have somebody who questions whenever you’re just doing studies,” McDill said. “For me, I think it’s worth it because I’m seeing a lot of people using (Ride Glenwood Springs) and for a few thousand dollars that it will cost us we’re going to get that fresh look.”The study comes as the city also is planning to restore bus service to the residential part of south Glenwood. It is about to seek bids from companies willing to operate a feeder route there, and possibly provide buses and/or maintenance.The city contracts with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to operate the rest of the Ride Glenwood Springs service. It’s possible the south Glenwood feeder route could be run with smaller vans that the city is better able to maintain on its own.Some council members like the idea of all Ride Glenwood Springs buses being smaller, saying that’s a better fit in a tourism community. But council recently decided to buy two, almost-new 44-passenger buses from RFTA to meet the growing ridership needs.”We just had to go to that larger bus because we were literally pressed to sometimes not be able to fit somebody in the bus that had been waiting at the bus stop. That’s bad business in the transit business to turn somebody away,” McDill said.