Ride Glenwood south route could be cut

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
John Stroud/Post IndependentThe city of Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission has proposed eliminating Sunday service as part of the free Ride Glenwood in-city bus service, and doing away with the system's south route altogether, due to the anticipated decline in 2011 transit revenues.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The city’s Transportation Commission recommends eliminating the south route of the free Ride Glenwood bus service and cutting Sunday service altogether, due to dwindling revenues.

Hours for the Ride Glenwood main route could also be adjusted to help make up for a “significant shortfall” in the city’s 2011 transit budget, according to the recommendations presented to City Council at a Nov. 4 work session.

The most significant hit would be the elimination of the south route, which provides free shuttle service between the Glenwood Park/Cardiff Glen area and the Ride Glenwood main route.

“Regardless of the ridership, operational reliability and other issues associated with the south route, the city simply cannot afford to continue funding this route,” according to the Transportation Commission’s recommendations. “Sales tax and other transit-related revenues have declined significantly, meaning there is not enough funding in the city’s [2011] budget to continue both the south route and the main route.”

The city contracts with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which runs the valleywide bus system, to operate the free, in-city Ride Glenwood service.

The service is funded primarily by a dedicated portion of the city’s sales tax, revenues from which have gone down over the past two years by more than 10 percent.

The south route has rather modest ridership compared to the main Ride Glenwood route, but tends to peak before and after school when high school students use it.

Mayor Bruce Christensen, who is executive director of Mountain Valley Developmental Services, said MVDS clients also use the route to get to and from the organization’s main location in Glenwood Park. However, if the service is not available, MVDS is required to provide its own transportation services, he said.

The Transportation Commission is also recommending the elimination of Sunday service on the main route.

“Even eliminating the south route will not entirely mitigate the city’s transit budget shortfall,” the commission advised in its report. “A 10 percent (approximately) service reduction on the main route is also necessary.”

An alternative to eliminating Sunday service would be to decrease bus frequency on both Saturday and Sunday. However, ridership is generally lowest on Sunday, while Saturday ridership is fairly high.

Doing away with Sunday service would result in a cost savings of about $128,672. The city’s total transit budget for 2011 is proposed at $814,103.

The commission did consider implementing a fare, but it was determined that a reasonable fare would not be enough to keep the south route going.

City Manager Jeff Hecksel said transit tax revenues would be monitored through the first half of the year, and if possible some service could be reinstated mid-year.

Longer term, the Transportation Commission has also prioritized implementing 15-minute weekday frequency on the main Ride Glenwood route. Service is now every 30 minutes.

The commission did note that “demand response” and other available resources should be “directed to ensure a safety net for those south route riders who lack other transportation options.”

City Council is scheduled to formally consider and act on the transit recommendations at its Dec. 2 meeting.