Don’t look for bus to Two Creeks |

Don’t look for bus to Two Creeks

Aspen Times Staff Report

Catching a bus to Two Creeks at Snowmass this season isn’t easy.

The Roaring Fork Transit Agency’s Two Creeks skier shuttle from Aspen has never started up this season, and the town of Snowmass Village has discontinued its shuttle to Two Creeks from the town’s rodeo parking lot. The only remaining service to Two Creeks is shuttle to and from the Snowmass Village Mall operated by the town.

David Harris, transit supervisor for Snowmass Village, confirmed three different shuttles have served the Two Creeks area in the past, but only one is still in service.

A town shuttle which ran from the rodeo parking lot to Two Creeks every 20 minutes was discontinued. The reason, Harris said, was lack of ridership, which he attributed to the free parking available at the Two Creeks chairlift base. The lift serves the Elk Camp side of the ski area.

“Over a whole day, we’d have maybe 16 to 20 people,” Harris said. “It was very underutilized.”

RFTA bus service, which in the past served Two Creeks directly from Rubey Park in Aspen, was operated by RFTA and funded by the Skico. A bus has not operated on that route at all this winter.

Harris said RFTA could not operate the service because the Two Creeks lift did not open during the early part of the ski season, and the lift has not operated regularly since it opened. The transit service must commit equipment and labor to a bus route far in advance, he said.

RFTA General Manager Dan Blankenship said he suspects the Skico might not call for operation of the service for the remainder of the ski season.

Blankenship said the Aspen-Two Creeks service was initially required by the U.S. Forest Service as a condition of approval of the Burnt Mountain expansion of the ski area, served by the Two Creeks lift. The Skico added three buses to the RFTA fleet to provide service to the new lift when it opened in 1995.

The rationale for requiring bus service to the lift was its potential to reduce air pollution produced by cars, if enough people ride the bus, Blankenship said.

The Forest Service was going to require the service to continue if it served a minimum of 600 passengers per day, Blankenship said, but during the 1998-1999 ski season, average ridership reached only 408 passengers per day.

Last season, Blankenship said, the Two Creeks buses carried only about 39,000 total passengers, the lowest ridership of any of RFTA’s routes. But the route required the same amount of equipment and the same number of drivers as routes serving Buttermilk and Highlands.

Blankenship said the Two Creeks route was operating at two and a half to three times the cost per rider as some of RFTA’s other routes.

“Typically, demand is pretty low at Two Creeks,” Blankenship said. “The economics of it are pretty questionable.”

Doug McKenzie, the Skico’s general manager for Snowmass and a RFTA board member, echoed that thought.

“We’re all looking at the financial aspects,” McKenzie said. “What we were doing is sending empty buses into town.” He noted that with RFTA’s present staffing problems and a shortage of buses, the transit agency’s resources could be better used elsewhere.

The remaining bus service to Two Creeks, operated by the town, runs between the Snowmass Village Mall and Two Creeks every 15 minutes, starting at 7:30 a.m. and continuing until 6 p.m. There is no charge for that service.

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