A free ride between Aspen, Snowmass?

Aspen Times Staff
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Taking the bus between Aspen and Snowmass may cost riders nothing for the rest of the summer if upvalley elected officials agree to absorb nearly $37,000 in bus costs.

The experimental program, which would offer free bus service from July 23 through the end of the summer, will be considered by the Elected Officials Transportation Committee on Thursday. The EOTC is comprised of Aspen City Council and Snowmass Village Town Council members, along with the Pitkin County commissioners.

Roaring Fork Transportation Authority CEO Dan Blankenship said the transit agency will provide information on the impact the free service would have on ridership at the session.

And since the city of Aspen is currently subsidizing free service between Aspen and the Highway 82/Brush Creek intercept lot, making the service free all the way between Snowmass and Aspen would make traveling more consistent and understandable for users, as well as more equitable for Snowmass Village riders, Blankenship said.

Having free service between Aspen and the intercept lot apparently is creating some confusion, because traveling from Aspen to Snowmass is not supposed to be free. To ride between Aspen and Snowmass, it costs $3 each way, and $2 from the intercept lot to Snowmass Village.

The free shuttle service from Aspen to the lot was one measure city officials hoped would reduce the number of cars on Highway 82 during peak periods this summer. The service operates every half-hour in the morning and afternoon, between the normally scheduled fare buses, thus providing service between Aspen the intercept lot every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

By making the ride free all the way to Snowmass, staff believes “ridership could be compared against the first half of the summer and against last year to see what kind of potential impact free service between Aspen and Snowmass Village might have,” Blankenship wrote in a memo to the EOTC.

The EOTC meets at 4 p.m. on Thursday in the Snowmass Town Council chambers on the second floor of the Snowmass Center.