Riders delight in more express buses between Glenwood Springs, Aspen
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — More frequent options to get to and from her job in Aspen will make the commuting life a little less frenzied for Lorena Macha, of Glenwood Springs.
Before Tuesday’s launch of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s new bus-rapid-transit system, Macha said she usually had a choice of just two morning express buses from Glenwood to Aspen.
Now, the express buses will leave every 12 minutes during peak morning hours, starting at 4:53 until 8:17 a.m., from the new South Glenwood bus station at 27th Street and South Glen, with corresponding connections from the West Glenwood park-and-ride.
“A lot of the time when I had to take the (local) bus, I would have to go through Carbondale and Basalt, round and round,” Macha said. “When I work, it’s nice to have more buses to get there faster.”
Rapid-transit buses will stop only at the main transit stations at Carbondale, El Jebel, Willits, Basalt, Brush Creek, the Aspen Business Center and Buttermilk before arriving at the Rubey Park station in Aspen.
Local buses running every half hour will continue to make stops at such places as the Colorado Mountain College turnoff on Highway 82, downtown Carbondale, Blue Lake and downtown Basalt.
Likewise, the afternoon bus-rapid-transit schedule from Aspen begins at 2:15 p.m., with express buses every 12 minutes to Glenwood Springs until 6:30 p.m. Buses will eventually run every 10 minutes during the peak winter season.
Brent Carlsgaard, 24, of New Castle, was waiting for the local bus Tuesday to get to his classes at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.
He’s part of a demographic, young adults and others who choose not to drive for a variety of reasons, that RFTA expects to attract with the new system.
Carlsgaard said it’s an “affordable choice” for him to take the bus to and from class and up to Aspen during the ski and snowboard season, rather than owning and driving a car.
“I’ll probably use it a lot during snowboarding season,” he said. “A lot of the times got moved around for the other buses, though, so that will take some getting used to.”
Jose Rubio, of Rifle, who works on a food truck that serves CMC students, said he likes the new buses and bus stops that were part of the $46.2 million expansion.
“It’s a good system. The bus drivers are safe, and the buses are really comfortable,” Rubio said.
RFTA officials joined local dignitaries, federal and state transportation officials and representatives from some of the many contractors who worked on the expansion project at the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the new South Glenwood station Tuesday morning.
“It feels good to finally get this started,” said Glenwood Springs City Council member Ted Edmonds, who is the city’s representative on the RFTA board of directors.
“We are opening today on time and on budget,” he said in introducing RFTA’s longtime CEO, Dan Blankenship.
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Eagle County, which has the largest Latino population among the three counties making up the Roaring Fork Valley and surrounding environs, 60% of white people have received one dose, compared with 15% of Latinos, who make up 29.6% of Eagle’s population. A racial equity gap in vaccination appears less pronounced in Pitkin and Garfield counties; however, those counties have higher proportions of residents who did not report their race upon being vaccinated, which can skew results. Yet the disparity remains clear.