Glenwood Springs officials vote to keep RFTA service rolling |

Glenwood Springs officials vote to keep RFTA service rolling

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The RFTA 27th Street station in south Glenwood sits nearly empty on Monday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs City Council voted 4-3 on Monday night to allow the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to continue operating in Glenwood Springs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After RFTA’s board of directors elected to stick with the bus system’s “bare bones” level of service last week, council agreed to meet Monday night to consider an emergency order that would have terminated RFTA service in Glenwood Springs altogether.

Mayor Jonathan Godes was joined by council members Steve Davis and Rick Voorhees in voting to suspend RFTA Service.

Mayor Pro Tem Shelley Kaup alongside council members Paula Stepp, Tony Hershey and Charlie Willman voted against terminating RFTA temporarily.

“You can be sure that somebody we know, somebody we love is probably going to be intubated and may not make it out of the ICU,” Councilman Rick Voorhees said. “I don’t want to tell myself after I’m off council … that I didn’t do everything I could.”

Last week, Rifle’s city council approved its own emergency order to temporarily suspend bus service to and from Rifle.

Subsequently, RFTA temporarily ended its service to Rifle on Saturday

“Is riding RFTA in its present form where ridership has dropped by 90 perecent, … is that any riskier than going to the grocery store right now?” Kaup said.

Currently, RFTA limits its bus capacity to 10 passengers and routinely fogs and sanitizes buses in an effort to protect its drivers and riders.

“There are people who rely on our services to get to food and doctors,” RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said. “I hope you just take that into consideration.”

Based on a survey of 27 riders conducted from Wednesday to Friday, 48% of respondents said they utilized RFTA to get food and 33% said they rode the bus to get to work.

“I have some real concerns about this concept of shutting down RFTA,” Glenwood Springs resident Russ Arensman said at Thursday’s meeting. “I think is going to be an unequal impact on different slices of the population.”

Council will likely revisit the issue, again, at a meeting later this week.

Councilman Charlie Willman said he wanted RFTA and the city to work together on additional safety measures before voting to suspend service altogether — a sentiment shared with others.

“How many lives could be lost by keeping it running for the convenience of some?” Councilman Steve Davis saked. “How many lives are acceptable? I can’t think any.”

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