Aspen’s X Games produced record bus ridership

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
A crowd soaks in competition at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk in January. Organizer ESPN reported a record crowd on the Saturday of the games. It was also a record ridership day for the valley's public bus system.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |


Public bus ridership soared during the Winter X Games at Buttermilk this year. The number of riders on Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s system totaled 50,829 on Saturday, Jan. 30, setting a single-day record. The number of riders on the Saturday of the X Games in 2015 was 38,263.

Bus ridership reached a record level during the Winter X Games at Buttermilk this year.

Measuring X Games ridership is an inexact science because most riders arriving and departing the event take regularly scheduled bus service, according to John Hocker, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority co-director of operations. He compared ridership on RFTA’s routes this year with last year during the X Games. He also examined the ridership the weekend before this year’s X Games to get a feel for the ridership.

On Saturday, Jan. 30, RFTA hauled 50,829 passengers. “That’s a record for us,” Hocker said.

On the the Saturday of the 2015 X Games, RFTA transported 38,263 passengers, according to RFTA’s tally.

For the four days of X Games, RFTA hauled 143,160 passengers systemwide compared with 123,892 for the same period the year before.

Charter service hired by Aspen Skiing Co. and ESPN, the organizer of X Games, hauls additional passengers.

To put the event’s impact into perspective, the systemwide ridership for the four-day weekend just prior to X Games this year was 78,238. That means ridership was up by nearly 65,000 passengers, or 83 percent.

ESPN, the organizers of X Games, reported a single-day attendance record was set on the Saturday of the event with 49,000 people. The overall attendance of 102,000 fell short of a record, ESPN said.

RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship said during a RFTA board of directors meeting Thursday the drivers, supervisors, mechanics and other personnel at the bus agency were particularly tested during the Saturday of the X Games. On top of record ridership, there was a late afternoon blizzard. Highway 82 was shut down for about 45 minutes between Buttermilk and Aspen.

He said RFTA was close to reaching capacity for this year’s event.

Carbondale Mayor and RFTA board Chairwoman Stacy Bernot said the agency should do something special to thank its workers for “making it happen” during the X Games.

“This is definitely making it happen,” she said.

Hocker said most RFTA employees rally for the event, though there are special challenges.

“I don’t want to get into details of what those buses look like” after the event, he said.

Snowmass Village Mayor and RFTA board member Markey Butler said she cannot believe the “crap” the bus drivers put up with from some of the riders during the X Games.

“You never know what’s going to board that bus,” she said.


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