RFTA on the road to boosting downvalley buses | AspenTimes.com

RFTA on the road to boosting downvalley buses

Janet Urquhart

An hour is a long time to wait for a bus. Just ask anyone who resides in Carbondale or Glenwood Springs.It has long been a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority goal to boost service in the lower valley to match the frequency of buses between El Jebel and Aspen. On Thursday, RFTA’s board of directors will look at a proposal to provide half-hour service in Carbondale and Glenwood at times of the day when a rider can currently catch a bus just once an hour.”We’re currently evaluating what would be involved from a manpower and an equipment perspective,” said Dan Blankenship, RFTA CEO. Last week he did not have a cost estimate for the added service.RFTA already provides half-hour service for Glenwood and Carbondale during the peak commuting hours – heading upvalley in the morning and downvalley in the afternoon. But in the opposite direction, for someone who needs a ride from Aspen to Carbondale in the morning, or from Glenwood up to Basalt in the afternoon, for example, there is just one bus an hour.In the upper valley, between El Jebel and Aspen, riders enjoy half-hour service throughout the day in both directions.Even with the proposed boost in frequency, the lower valley will have only hourly service during the midday and in the evening. The long-range goal is to fill in those gaps with service every half-hour, too, Blankenship said.Increasing service to the lower valley means operating a bus that circulates solely between El Jebel and Glenwood. Anyone looking to ride the length of the valley will need to transfer in El Jebel, but at least they won’t need to wait up to a full hour to make the trip, Blankenship said.”If you miss the bus and you’ve got an hour to wait for the next one, that’s a long wait,” he said. “It impacts your decision to use transit.”The proposed new half-hour service would run seven days a week during the summer and winter, and Monday through Friday during the off-seasons.In addition to more frequent service in the lower valley, RFTA has proposed adding a third express bus from Glenwood Springs to Aspen in the morning, leaving Glenwood at 8:05 a.m., Blankenship said.The RFTA board will meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at Carbondale Town Hall.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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