A fair bus fare for valley bicyclists? | AspenTimes.com

A fair bus fare for valley bicyclists?

Janet Urquhart

Bus riders who pay an extra fare so their bicycle can ride, too, may be in line for a break from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.The bus agency is reviewing the fare it charges to passengers who want to load a bike on the RFTA bus bike racks, with an eye toward at least reducing the extra charge.Currently, a passenger who wants, for example, to ride the bus to Aspen in the morning and hit some singletrack on the way home to Basalt, pays an extra $2 cash fare to bring the bike on the ride upvalley (or, roughly a buck with a punch pass). RFTA charges a flat fee for bikes, unlike passenger fees, which get higher as the distance a passenger wants to travel in the valley increases. (It’s cheaper to ride between Basalt and Aspen than between Glenwood Springs and Aspen).RFTA instituted the fares for bikes back in the mid-’90s, when demand for limited space on the racks began resulting in confrontations, according to Dan Blankenship, RFTA’s CEO. At the same time, RFTA limited the number of stops where bikes could be loaded.The Brush Creek Road connection to Snowmass Village was especially problematic, he said. A bus carrying bikes coming upvalley and another bus loaded with bikes headed downvalley from Aspen would meet at Brush Creek, potentially resulting in as many as eight passengers with bicycles who all wanted to transfer their bikes onto the Snowmass-bound bus. A bus rack carries just four bikes.”When it was free, it was kind of a victim of its own success,” Blankenship said. “By having a fare, it kind of helped moderate demand.”Now, RFTA is surveying its drivers to assess the impact of perhaps cutting the bike fare from $2 to a buck and maybe letting passengers who buy a season bus pass load their bike for free, Blankenship said.The resulting loss of revenue would be insignificant, he said.”It’s not a money maker for us,” Blankenship said. “It’s just a way to keep demand manageable.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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