Bustang’s west route ridership up 77 percent, statewide up 52 percent | AspenTimes.com

Bustang’s west route ridership up 77 percent, statewide up 52 percent

Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com

Passengers arrives at Union Station in Denver from Fort Collins, on the Bustang, a statewide bus service, that started in July, September 02, 2015.

DENVER — Horace Greeley admonished Americans to “Go West,” and many of us are using Bustang to do it.

Ridership on Bustang’s west route between Denver and Glenwood Springs surged by 77 percent in its second year. It’s up 52 percent statewide.

“Bustang has provided thousands of people with the freedom to travel to Denver from the mountain towns along (Interstate 70) and vice versa without driving their car,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation’s director. “The huge growth in ridership demonstrates the clear need for even more statewide bus service like Bustang.”

Bustang turned 2 years old this week, and staffers with the public interest group CoPIRG Foundation stood at Bustang’s gate in Denver’s Union Station to welcome disembarking riders of the west route to mark the occasion. They gathered signatures on a large birthday card made out to the Colorado Department of Transportation, which operates the statewide bus service.

“Whether you don’t own a car or want to avoid the hassle of driving and paying for parking, Bustang is connecting our biggest cities and economic areas via WiFi-equipped buses,” Katz said.

Katz said it’s “crazy” that it took until 2015 to launch Bustang, but now that Coloradans have it, we’re using it.

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“We should keep expanding the service until everyone in Colorado has transportation options,” Katz said.

The vision is to connect Bustang with regional transit systems such as Eagle County’s ECO bus system and the Roaring Fork’s RFTA.

“The steady growth in ridership demonstrates the clear need for even more statewide bus service like Bustang,” says a letter signed by 41 mayor and city council members along the Bustang routes. “Coloradans need travel options to get around the state, and the steady growth in Bustang ridership demonstrates that it is providing a good foundation to build from.”

Bustang runs three main routes from Denver’s Union Station: South to Colorado Springs, north to Fort Collins and West to Glenwood Springs. Katz said CDOT is planning to expand weekend service and add new stops and additional buses to existing routes during the work week.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

So, Bustang?

When the Colorado Department of Transportation launched Bustang in 2015, it wanted to make it as Coloradan as possible, hoping the bus would conjure up visions of the mustang as part of Colorado, the Broncos, even the blue mustang at Denver International Airport. In some places, it’s even becoming a verb, as in, to “bustang” into Denver.

The now-familiar buses are black and purple, as in “purple mountains majesty,” which we have in abundance out here in Colorado.

The idea is to connect as many of Colorado’s local transit system as possible (six, so far), said Amy Ford, CDOT’s communications director. For example, it’ll drop you at the Vail Transportation Center and the Eagle park and ride in Eagle County, where you can pick up an ECO bus or Vail bus to get around.

In Glenwood Springs, you can grab a RFTA bus and roll down the Roaring Fork Valley.

The buses are equipped with free Wi-Fi, 110-volt outlets and USB ports. They even have tray tables to help you sit up straight, instead of hunched over with your screen in your lap.

They’re over-the-road coaches, so they have restrooms. They have video screens where you can watch a safety video, or anything else you can get the drivers to play.

Not only is there a spot for you, there’s a spot for your bicycle.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

BUSTANG RIDERSHIP

North Route: 42,959 in June 2016, 64,642 in June 2017 — 50 percent increase

South Route: 40,404 in June 2016, 57,306 in June 2017 — 42 percent increase

West Route: 19,140 in June 2016, 33,916 in June 2017 — 77 percent increase

Bustang System: 102,503 in June 2016, 155,864 in June 2017 — 52 percent increase

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation

TICKETS

Starting from Denver’s Union Station, a Bustang ride is $12 to Frisco, $17 to Vail, $22 to Eagle or $28 to Glenwood Springs. For information and ticket prices, visit http://www.ridebustang.com.