RFTA sticks with bare bones bus service in Aspen area, resists proposal to suspend operations | AspenTimes.com

RFTA sticks with bare bones bus service in Aspen area, resists proposal to suspend operations

Staff report
A rider alert is posted on the fare box of RFTA buses on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The alert urges passengers to not get on the bus if they are experiencing respiratory issues.
Aspen Times file

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s board of directors affirmed its position to continue running the public bus system on “bare bones” service after a 90-minute, sometimes spirited discussion Friday morning.

The board endorsed service reductions the prior Friday in a special meeting. The cuts were put into place on Monday, but RFTA wanted to review the decision with the board again on Friday.

After hearing from staff, the board voted 6-2 to uphold the bus service at the current, reduced rate. Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes and Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt dissented. They wanted to end service altogether during the coronavirus crisis.

The continued service was supported by New Castle Mayor Art Riddile, Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney, Aspen Councilwoman Ann Mullins, Pitkin County Commissioner George Newman, Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson and Snowmass Village Mayor Markey Butler.

Whitsitt said she believes RFTA is doing all it can to keep drivers safe, but ongoing service creates the risk of spreading the virus. She noted that the Colorado Department of Transportation suspended its Bustang service recently for fear of spreading the virus.

“If service continues, I would say mandatory masks on everybody,” Whitsitt said.

Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney said RFTA should hold off on a mask decree. That might result in bus riders competing with medical personnel and first responders for limited supplies.

Godes said he felt the bus service should be shut down because of the threat of community spread of the coronavirus. The Glenwood Springs council discussed whether or not RFTA service should continue earlier in the week, but didn’t reach a conclusion. Members wanted to see how the RFTA board voted on the issue.

The Pitkin County Commissioners and city of Aspen directed their representatives to supply the continued operation of the phase 3 service.

RFTA staff said even with drastically reduced routes, there were 1,450 boardings and departures on RFTA buses Monday, the first day of the cuts. The reduced service requires 48 drivers per day.

Bus riders should go to http://www.rfta.com for the revised schedule.

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