Avoid an Xtra headache, take a bus to X Games from Aspen or downvalley | AspenTimes.com

Avoid an Xtra headache, take a bus to X Games from Aspen or downvalley

Winter X Games spectators load a bus during last year's event. The public bus system estimates it will haul an extra 50,000 passengers to and from the Games over the weekend.
Aspen Times file photo |

X GAMES TRANSIT

Parking at Buttermilk isn’t an option, so take the bus.

• From Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs: The best bet is to use a parking lot associated with one of the major bus stops and catch a BRT bus, which stops directly in front of Buttermilk on Highway 82. The buses can be caught from the same bus stops after the events conclude. That service charges a fare.

• From the Intercept Lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road: Another option when approaching from downvalley is to drive to the Intercept Lot and catch a free shuttle dedicated to X Games service. The shuttle will pull into the Buttermilk base to drop off passengers. At the conclusion of events, shuttles will load at the Buttermilk base and take passengers back to the Intercept Lot.

• From Snowmass Village: Free skier shuttles will travel from bus stops in the village to Buttermilk during the ski day. After that service ends, free shuttles dedicated to the X Games will circulate between Buttermilk and Snowmass bus stops throughout the conclusion of events.

• From Aspen: Free shuttles dedicated to X Games will circulate between Wagner Park in Aspen and the Buttermilk base area. In addition, RFTA’s regular service stops on Highway 82 in front of Buttermilk. At the conclusion of events, the free shuttles will take passengers back into Aspen.

People attending the Winter X Games this week can avoid a headache by ditching their private vehicles at a convenient, strategic spot and taking a bus to Buttermilk, the event venue.

The Aspen area’s regular public transit operator, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, is putting more than 100 buses into service during the Games, which run today through Sunday.

“Everything we own that runs is out there,” said John Hocker, co-director of operations for RFTA.

In addition, Aspen Skiing Co. and X Games presenter ESPN have hired two private transit companies to supplement RFTA’s service. Free buses operated by the private companies will circulate continuously between Buttermilk and Aspen, Snowmass Village and the Intercept Lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road.

Justin “Buck” Erickson of Skico’s special events department said using a private vehicle to get close to the venue isn’t an option.

“There’s absolutely no on-site parking,” he said.

Here’s advice from Erickson and Hocker on how to use the bus system while the Games are ongoing:

Approaching from downvalley

Spectators heading to Buttermilk from Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and points beyond have some options. They can use any of the park-and-ride lots in those towns and use RFTA’s regular bus service to get to Buttermilk.

The service is reasonably priced and the convenience factor is off the charts — buses dump passengers on Buttermilk’s doorstop.

Passengers from the downvalley towns should go to RFTA’s website for the bus rapid transit service schedule (www.rfta.com/routes). Buses run every 10 minutes during the morning and afternoon rush hours and every 15 minutes during the heart of the day, so there is never much of a wait.

Hocker said RFTA sticks to its regularly scheduled service during the X Games. The only difference is it holds buses in reserve, ready to match customer demand.

“We know over the years where to put buses in the valley,” Hocker said.

RFTA bus service runs until 2:15 a.m.

“I’ll guarantee you we’ll be running several buses at that time,” Hocker said, based on demand in years past.

Another option is to drive to the Intercept Lot at the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road, roughly 3 miles from Buttermilk, and take a free bus to the venue. Buses provided by Skico and ESPN run continuously, so there’s virtually no wait. But be forewarned, the Intercept Lot typically fills to capacity Saturday and occasionally on other days.

For spectators of the competition, the buses dedicated to the X Games from the Intercept Lot to Buttermilk base area will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

For the concerts, the last buses will be leaving the Intercept Lot at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Approaching from Aspen and Snowmass

The options are similar for travel from Aspen and Snowmass Village to Buttermilk. RFTA offers its regular service, plus there are the free skier shuttles.

The private transit companies hired by Skico and ESPN will haul passengers to Buttermilk from Aspen’s Wagner Park, and they will run from all regular bus stops in Snowmass Village after the skier shuttles stop operating, according to Erickson.

All bus service from Aspen and Snowmass Village to Buttermilk is free.

The hours of operation of the dedicated X Games shuttles are the same as from the Intercept Lot, listed above.

Leaving the X Games

Bus passengers leaving the X Games have some options, as well. The dedicated X Games shuttles will pick up passengers at the bus-loading platform at the Buttermilk base. Buses will be designated for Aspen as well as for the Intercept Lot and Snowmass Village. Buses will circulate continuously.

“We’re here until everyone leaves the venue,” Erickson said.

If the lines are too long at the Buttermilk base, some people heading into Aspen or downvalley can make the decision to walk out to the bus stops on Highway 82 and catch RFTA’s regular service, Hocker said. They must be aware that the regular service could involve a fare.

Hocker said Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest times. It’s not uncommon for people to make a couple of trips per day between Buttermilk and Aspen or the Intercept Lot. They head into town to eat or out to their vehicle to party.

“If the weather is bad you see people moving around a lot more,” Hocker said.

Spectators who wait until the end of the competitions and concerts at night are going to have to wait to board a bus simply because of the sheer numbers.

“We can’t move people out right away but we can get them out pretty quickly,” Hocker said.

The X Games wouldn’t run as smoothly as it does if Skico and ESPN didn’t hire extra transit service from McDonald Transit Associates and Ramblin’ Express, Hocker said. RFTA realized years ago it was maxed out and couldn’t provide additional service.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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