Crowds, weather delay bus service | AspenTimes.com
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Crowds, weather delay bus service

Joel Stonington

Weather conditions and a jump in the number of riders has pushed RFTA to its limits and delayed buses during the holiday season. The problems peaked on New Year’s Day, when five Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses crashed during a few hours and the shift supervisor shut down service in Aspen for part of the day.”It has been sort of a perfect storm,” said Dan Blankenship, CEO of RFTA. “We’re dealing with unprecedented demand for the buses when the conditions out on the road are some of the most challenging we’ve dealt with.”He said the accidents on New Year’s weren’t all that dangerous and there weren’t injuries, but they did slow service down. “One of the drivers told me about his situation,” Blankenship said. “He stopped the bus with some difficulty and then it slid sideways, kitty-corner across the intersection, and had to be towed away from the curb.”The supervisor on New Year’s decided to take all Aspen vehicles out of service until the city could plow and sand the roads. “New Year’s Eve was one of the busiest ever,” Blankenship said. “Christmas week was one of the busiest we’ve seen around here. And some of the drivers have been here for 20 years, so when we say that, we really mean it.”Ridership was up 13-14 percent in December, according to RFTA.And with all the snow and icy roads, RFTA has been having a tough time being on time at points in December. “We’re always trying to keep them on schedule,” Blankenship said. “But it’s sometimes challenging for us to do so. A couple of contributing factors to buses not running on schedule of late have to do with snow and very icy and snowpacked driving conditions, which not only delays our buses but all the traffic that’s out there.”He said he hopes the weather will cooperate a bit, and he also expects ridership to drop off a bit with the end of the holiday season.”We really want to be a service to the community and we’re working hard to be reliable, but when we experience a lot of bad weather, it’s going to cause delays and schedule problems,” Blankenship said. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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