RFTA ridership, revenues bounce back | AspenTimes.com

RFTA ridership, revenues bounce back

CARBONDALE – The ridership and revenues of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority have stabilized to the point where the bus agency hopes to avoid raising fares or cutting service in 2012.

“There were no fare increases in 2011 and none anticipated in 2012,” Michael Yang, RFTA’s new finance director, told the agency’s board of directors Thursday in Carbondale.

Yang will present a draft budget to the board next month. The major goal, he said, should be to avoid dipping into reserves. He said he would likely advise cutting service, if necessary, rather than using reserves.

RFTA will continue its “cautious approach” and budget only a modest increase in sales tax revenues in 2012, Yang said. RFTA’s ridership and revenues are benefiting this year from a recovering economy in the Roaring Fork Valley. The bus agency reported that its overall ridership is up 5.7 percent for the year-to-date through July compared to last year. RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship said sales tax revenue is up by a similar percentage so far this year.

RFTA buses have hauled 2,644,683 passengers this year through July compared to 2,502,522 last year over the same period. That is an increase of 142,161.

Ridership on Highway 82 commuter buses between Glenwood Springs and Aspen is up 61,194 over last year, or 5.7 percent. That is RFTA’s bread-and-butter service.

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The number of riders on buses within the city of Aspen is up by 22,262, or 3.18 percent. Ridership within the Glenwood Springs service is up by 24,077 riders, or 9.82 percent.

One surprise so far this year is the falling number of riders on buses to the Maroon Bells. Ridership through July was down by 4,658 passengers, or almost 13 percent, from last season.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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