RFTA’s Hogback bus service saved for another year
December 10, 2009
CARBONDALE – A funding fight that threatened the Hogback bus service between Rifle and Glenwood Springs has been averted.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s board of directors voted Thursday to accept an agreement with Garfield County that will preserve the bus service through 2010. RFTA warned last month that the Hogback line would be eliminated if the governments of Rifle, Silt and Garfield County didn’t cough up an additional $149,000 to cover costs.
Garfield County commissioners voted earlier this fall to increase their contribution by $100,000 for next year, to a total of $565,000.
The RFTA board remained firm on the need for $149,000.
The county commissioners voted 2-1 earlier this week to pay the additional $49,000. Commissioners Tresi Haupt and Mike Samson supported the extra funding; Commissioner John Martin was opposed.
“It surprised John Martin, I think. It surprised us,” RFTA board member and Pitkin County Commissioner Michael Owsley said at RFTA’s meeting in Carbondale. Owsley lobbied his counterparts in Garfield County to pay the extra funds rather than eliminate service that is important to many of their constituents.
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“The benefits of RFTA are clear – it allows people to go to work, to earn money to bring back to their communities,” he said.
RFTA board chairman Bruce Christensen said it was “fortunate” the funding feud “didn’t come to a line in the sand.”
The Hogback service has been a point of contention for years. The local governments that support RFTA with a sales tax contend they subsidize the Hogback route because non-members Garfield County, Rifle and Silt don’t cover the cost of running the buses.
Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle are RFTA members along with Pitkin and Eagle counties. They all collect a transit sales tax.
Garfield County, Rifle and Silt aren’t members. Silt contributes nothing to RFTA; Rifle generally contributes $20,000 per year. Garfield Count contributes a varying amount.
RFTA’s board vowed in September it would make good on years of threats and stop the Hogback on April 12, at the end of ski season, without the $149,000. Garfield County’s contribution repairs the relationship for at least a year. They still must come up with a long-term funding solution for the Hogback service.