RFTA backs away from cuts | AspenTimes.com

RFTA backs away from cuts

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has backed off on plans to reduce weekend bus service during the spring, summer and fall, a move transit officials fear would affect too many riders.

The RFTA board of directors voted unanimously last week to reinstate some of the service it had cut when it approved its 2003 budget.

The board had balanced its budget by cutting its valley service on Highway 82 on weekends in the spring, summer and fall. Buses were to be reduced to running once an hour between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, and only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekends.

While the hourly weekend service will remain in effect this spring, from April 14 to June 7, buses will run until 2:15 a.m. on Saturdays and 12:15 a.m. on Sundays. In addition, no weekend service reductions will be made for the summer season, the board agreed.

“In looking at the ridership on the services we’re looking at cutting back, it’s significant,” said Dan Blankenship, RFTA executive director. “My recommendation is that we provide those services because they’re needed.”

To reinstate the service, RFTA will look to cut operational costs during the year by 1 or 2 percent, saving about $140,000 to $280,000, he said.

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The spring off-season will still usher in reductions in bus service, however, both within Aspen and throughout the valley.

In addition, spring will bring the semiannual easing of Aspen’s parking restrictions, starting this month.

Downtown parking will be free on Saturdays, in addition to the usual Sundays, starting April 19. Also, vehicles with two or more occupants may park for free in designated areas around town with a permit, beginning April 21. The carpool permits are available at the airport parking information kiosk and the Rio Grande Parking Garage.

In the city of Aspen, several buses will suspend service for the off-season, including the Cross Town Shuttle, which quit running April 6. The Highlands direct and Woody Creek buses ended service on Sunday and the Galena Street Shuttle will suspend operations on April 20. Service on all of the routes will resume in June.

The city’s other bus routes will also curtail service for the off-season, starting today. The Castle-Maroon, Cemetery Lane and Hunter Creek buses will run from 7 a.m. to midnight on Monday through Saturday, while the East End Dial-a-Ride bus will run from 7 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

On Sundays, the Castle-Maroon, Cemetery Lane and Hunter Creek buses will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; the East End Dial-a-Ride will operate from 9 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

For those who miss the last bus home during the off-season on Fridays and Saturdays, a High Mountain Taxi will leave Rubey Park at 1 a.m., taking passengers to any city bus stop free of charge.

The off-season schedule in Aspen will be in effect until June 7.

Valley bus service from April 14 to June 7 will run from 4:35 a.m. to 2:15 a.m., Monday through Friday. Hourly service will be offered between Glenwood Springs and Aspen; a bus will run every 30 minutes between El Jebel and Aspen.

The first upvalley trip of the day will leave Carbondale at 4:35 a.m. and El Jebel at 5 a.m. The first upvalley trip from Glenwood Springs will depart West Glenwood at 6:05 a.m.

The first downvalley bus will leave Aspen’s Rubey Park at 6:15 a.m. and the last bus headed to El Jebel and Carbondale will leave Aspen at 2:15 a.m.

On weekends, Saturday service between Glenwood and Aspen will run hourly, between about 6 a.m. and 2:15 a.m., while Sunday service will run hourly from 7 a.m. to 12:15 a.m.

For questions about parking in Aspen, call 920-5267. For more information about bus service, call 925-8484.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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