Skico works with RFTA | AspenTimes.com

Skico works with RFTA

Dear Editor:

A letter written by Richard Bolts, which appeared in The Aspen Times on Tuesday, indicated that he may not fully understand how public bus services within Aspen, and between Aspen and Snowmass Village, are paid for during the winter season. Because others might not be familiar with how these services are financed, an explanation might be helpful.

City buses are paid for by the city of Aspen. Regional commuter buses are paid for by RFTA. Additionally, the Aspen Skiing Co. contributes in excess of $2.1 million each year to augment public funding for bus services in the upper Roaring Fork Valley.

The Skico is not receiving free transit service, and there has been no reduction in the Skico’s traditional level of financial support for public bus services. What has changed this year is that the buses formerly identified as skier shuttles have been combined with public transit services operating within the city of Aspen and with those providing service between Aspen and Snowmass Village.

Earlier this year, elected officials from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County agreed to subsidize the fare for bus riders between Aspen and Snowmass Village on a year-round basis. Last fall, thanks to this same group of elected officials and funding contributed by Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County taxpayers, exclusive bus lanes from Buttermilk to the Maroon Creek roundabout were

completed.

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This created an opportunity for RFTA to become more efficient during the winter season by integrating the skier shuttles with other public transit services operating in the upper valley. The goal was to make the consolidated services significantly more convenient than past services and to make them accessible to more potential riders. RFTA believes changes in the way services are being delivered in the upper valley this winter have made public transit more frequent and, in most cases, faster and cheaper than traveling by automobile.

The long-standing relationship between RFTA and the Skico is one that has been built upon trust, cooperation and mutual respect. The Skico has consistently demonstrated a willingness to shoulder its fair share of the costs associated with transporting visitors, residents and workers between its ski areas.

This year, the Skico fully supported RFTA’s plan to integrate the skier shuttles with other public transit services because it believed it was in the best interest of the community to do so. The greatly improved quality of transit services being enjoyed in the upper valley this winter is a rare example of how public and private sectors can work together in ways that actually make things better for nearly everyone.

Dan Blankenship

CEO, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority

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