No wonder commuters skip the bus | AspenTimes.com

No wonder commuters skip the bus

(This letter was originally addressed to Dan Blankenship, CEO of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.)Dear Editor:I recently moved from Aspen to Aspen Village and have resumed using RFTA for my transportation to and from Aspen. Nine years ago, when I lived in Basalt, riding RFTA was a pleasant, friendly experience. The drivers remembered regular riders’ destinations along the route and stopped accordingly. With the exception of one driver who admitted to a friend who boarded during a particularly heavy snowstorm that he had gotten high before coming to work, I always felt safe and appreciated as a RFTA customer.Today I find the bus-riding experience somewhat different. The drivers are, without exception, grumpy and unfriendly. The buses are consistently six to seven minutes later than the published arrival time – and this is summer, when the weather is fine. The stops and starts are jolting. As I was riding into town on the Fourth of July, my shoulders were practically dislocated while holding onto the railing standing up in the bus as the driver made a sudden stop while tailgating the car in front of him.On my way back home, a friend of mine had asked to get off the bus at Eighth Street in Aspen. The driver forgot to stop and my friend called out “Eighth Street” and the driver shouted back at him rudely, “You have to pull the chain, man.” This rider had boarded three minutes before and the driver could not even remember that he had requested the Eighth Street stop. Minutes later, a rider boarded the bus and asked to go to Snowmass. He was confused about the amount of the fare, and the driver was so rude to him I hoped that he was not from out of town expecting a friendly response to his inquiry. Although driving a RFTA bus may not be the driver’s dream job, I believe that the wages and benefits are fair. Employee housing, a ski pass and end-of-season bonus are part of the wage package. These drivers are ambassadors of the community and have the opportunity to be in contact with the many visitors who come to Aspen in addition to the worker bees who provide services to our visitors. I am appalled that their behavior, over the nine years that I did not use RFTA, has become so indifferent and downright rude. It is no wonder that commuters choose to sit in long lines of traffic rather that take the bus.Karen CreppsAspen Village