Winter ridership higher in 2014 than 2004 in Aspen area, survey says

Staff report

Commuters in the area from Aspen to Parachute drove less and rode the bus more last winter compared with 10 years ago, according to a survey.

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority teamed with the Colorado of Department of Transportation and local municipalities and counties to fund a regional travel-patterns research project. More than 1,300 commuters and 110 companies responded to a survey conducted at the end of March.

Commuters in the Roaring Fork and lower Colorado River valleys reported riding the bus 8 percent more than a similar survey found in March 2004, according to a statement from RFTA. The number of commuters who traveled in personal vehicles was 8 percent less than a decade ago during March, the survey showed.

“The new VelociRFTA route, inaugurated in September 2013, appears to have played a role in this shift, with over half of those who ride the bus reporting that they now typically use the VelociRFTA service,” RFTA’s statement said.

A second round of surveys will be mailed out in August to measure regional travel patterns during the peak of the summer season. This will be the first information collected on local summer travel patterns.

Commuters have noted this summer that they have experienced some of the worst traffic congestion ever when entering Aspen in mornings and exiting Aspen in afternoons. Traffic has typically backed up past the new Mountain Rescue Aspen headquarters during peak commute times in the mornings.

Beginning this week, postcards are being mailed to residents throughout the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys. People filling out surveys can enter a drawing for 10 $50 grocery vouchers to be given away. Surveys are being made available both in printed form and on the Web and in both English and Spanish language versions. Area residents who don’t receive a postcard inviting them to fill out a survey can still do so by visiting