Roaring Fork Valley voters voice support for RFTA tax
EL JEBEL The promise of better bus service between Aspen and Glenwood Springs and beyond apparently appeals to a number of voters in the Roaring Fork Valley.An informal poll of voters at polling places in El Jebel, Carbondale and Aspen on Tuesday indicated a fair number of valley residents support the ballot measure proposing a 0.4 percent sales and use tax increase for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which operates the bus service in the valley and between Glenwood Springs and Rifle.The additional tax, which amounts to 4 cents per $10 of taxable sales, is a small amount that can do good for the valley, reasoned Kale Lacroux of Basalt, who voiced hope for expanded service and anything that can help alleviate congestion on Highway 82.I think the traffic in the valley is getting terrible, he said.Lynne Mace of Basalt voted for the tax hike, too.I dont even use the bus, she said. I live two minutes from my gallery, but Im all for it.Chris Fuller of Missouri Heights described himself as an occasional RFTA rider who supports the tax hike nonetheless.I love RFTA. I truly believe our public transit system needs all the support it can get just with its current ridership, he said.Aaron Shaffer, casting his ballot in Carbondale, plans to become a RFTA rider. A newcomer to the valley, Shaffer said he has secured a job in Aspen and plans to commute via bus.Im for it. I think it helps everybody out, he said.In Aspen, Michael Duncan said he voted against the RFTA tax measure because hes satisfied with the service RFTA currently provides.I voted no. Im pretty happy with it now, he said. I think maybe down the road, if they need more money, Id vote for it.But another Aspen voter said she balked at spending more money on RFTA.I dont see why they need more money, she said. Im just worried about too much taxes going up.Voters in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle as well as unincorporated Pitkin and Eagle counties, are voting on the proposal Tuesday. Those entities are already paying members of the transportation district. Voters in Silt are being asked if they want to join RFTA as a paying member.For the measure to pass, the cumulative result must be favorable. Individual jurisdictions may vote for or against the proposal, but in the end all jurisdictions will either collect the tax or not.If the measure is approved, the extra revenues will fund capital projects, such as new buses, and handle higher operating costs, like hiring more drivers for those buses. The expansion plan is called Bus Rapid Transit.RFTA hauled a record number of passengers last year. The 4.45 million riders represented an increase of nearly 9 percent over 2006. Ridership has soared another 7.5 percent during the first half of 2008. RFTA predicts it will haul 4.75 million passengers this year.
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