Burlingame residents out of transit loop
ASPEN ” The 84 households at Burlingame Ranch ” the city’s newest affordable-housing complex ” collectively pay $60,480 toward their own transportation plan.
The city of Aspen picks up the rest, which pencils out at more than $570,000. Over the course of this year, residents will pay about 10 percent of the $632,118 in costs associated with the “Burlingame Mobility Plan,” which was created specifically for the planned community on the outskirts of Aspen, across Highway 82 from Buttermilk.
“There are some services out there that other places don’t have,” said Assistant City Manager Randy Ready.
Homeowners complained last week that they are required to pay $60 a month for year-round bus service from Burlingame to Aspen, but the city cut service this spring to every half-hour from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. In the winter, the Burlingame bus ran twice an hour from 6:15 a.m. to 2 a.m.
“It’s supposed to be an auto disincentive,” Burlingame resident Ned Ryerson told the Times last week, adding that he wonders where his money is going if it’s not going toward year-round bus service.
The $60 fee is not just for bus service, Ready said. It also pays for a Toyota Prius parked at Burlingame Ranch that can be used by any resident as part of the city’s rideshare program, as well as cab rides from High Mountain Taxi, Ready said.
Another portion goes into a reserve fund, which is at nearly $100,000. Once Burlingame residents form a homeowners association, its board can direct the city to spend that money on anything that is mass-transit related, such as scooters, a bicycle fleet or a van for carpooling.
Ready admits that communication between City Hall and residents has been “spotty” because there is no HOA formed yet in the newly built community. But city officials have recently reached out to residents, putting information on their doors about their own mobility plan.
In order to take a cab into town, residents must be equipped with vouchers which can be acquired through the city’s transportation department. They can take a free cab ride whenever they choose, although city officials expect that it’s not when direct bus service is running.
“Some are taking advantage of that and some aren’t,” Ready said, adding the cost for the service this year is $55,660, but residents only individually pay $15 a month. “If they take it once a month they’ve paid it off.”
As part of the city’s carshare program, residents can reserve the vehicle parked at Burlingame and only have to pay an hourly rate plus mileage. That program will cost about $25,000 this year for operations and a portion of the vehicle.
City Manager Steve Barwick said while the $60 fee may seem steep and limited bus service is occurring during the offseason, there are plenty of benefits to living at Burlingame, including the quality of the units and low utility bills because of environmentally conscious construction.
“For those residents, that’s the downside of living at Burlingame,” he said. “It’s a new route and it will undoubtedly be adjusted in the future.”
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If approved by the voters, about $5.5 million raised through taxes and bonds could be used to fund the Glenwood Springs airport runway tunnel, and approximately $7 million could go to airport improvements, such as a new FBO, hangars, a fuel farm, perimeter fencing, taxiway lighting and seal coating for the runway every five years for the next 20.