Glenwood will look to riders to help pay for bus | AspenTimes.com
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Glenwood will look to riders to help pay for bus

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentChristine Franklin of Glenwood Springs boards the bus along the Ride Glenwood route on Saturday. Franklin is a regular passenger in the Ride Glenwood program and she does not think that it is unreasonable that a small bus fee is being considered.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Bus riders would account for about 20 percent of the cost to run the Ride Glenwood city bus system, under a $1-per-ride fare proposal being considered by the Glenwood Springs City Council.

“Even after we do this, the bus is still subsidized by the taxpayers by about 80 percent,” Mayor Matt Steckler pointed out during a Feb. 2 council work session to discuss the fare plan.

The reality is, city staff urged, continuation of the in-city bus system hinges on finding another source of revenue to supplement the existing dedicated sales tax and federal grants that go to support Ride Glenwood.

The council will consider a formal resolution at its Feb. 16 meeting to implement a $1 fare for those who use Ride Glenwood buses. The service has been free to riders since 2005, but did operate on a fare system before that.

Under the new plan, children under age 5 who are riding with an adult would be able to board for free. The council may also consider a provision to allow senior citizens and students to reboard a bus within a certain amount of time after paying their fare. Discounted punch passes will also be looked at.

Ride Glenwood costs the city roughly $1 million per year to operate. In recent years, declining sales taxes to fund the system have meant the city had to dip into other funds to cover the cost.

Last year, the city also eliminated the south route along Midland Avenue to the Glenwood Park area, and reduced the hours of operation on the main route in an effort to cut costs. Ride Glenwood runs between the Roaring Fork Marketplace (Wal-Mart) and the Glenwood Springs Mall in West Glenwood.

For now, the fare would simply maintain the existing level of service, bringing in an expected $200,000 to $250,000 per year.

If revenues increase at some point, it’s possible the city could reinstate service hours later into the evening for people who get off work late, Steckler said.

Last year, the city accepted a $210,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to pay for installation of a fare box collection system. However, only about $46,000 of that will be needed, Glenwood Springs Assistant Public Works Director Dave Betley said. The remainder will be returned.

If formally approved by the City Council, the bus fare would go into effect in April, he said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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