GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – After more than a decade of planning and millions in tax dollars a first-of-its-kind bus system in the United States is rolling in Colorado’s high country.
On Tuesday the Roaring Fork Transit Authority started its new bus rapid transit program. It promises to cut in half the commute time from Glenwood Springs to Aspen.
It’s called the ‘VelociRFTA.’
“I think it will move a lot more people,” a bus driver said.
Twenty-six brand new busses will change the way the commute along Highway 82 happens with an emphasis on high frequency during peak hours and shorter travel times.
The new route only has nine stops along the 40-mile stretch between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
“It’s all about moving people to and from where they work, to and from the bedroom communities where they live, where they can afford a home,” Roaring Fork Transit Authority CEO Dan Blankenship said. “It relies a lot on technology to make the system operate more efficiently and more reliably.”
Riders can now check bus locations in real time online. New bus terminals have Wi-Fi and signs announcing the time the next bus arrives — not to mention heated waiting areas for the winter.
“I’m impressed. It’s very nice architecture and it looks like it’s well constructed,” a Glenwood Springs resident said.
“If we didn’t make our facilities more attractive, so people feel safe and secure … and if we didn’t have a higher quality of service, over time we would probably start to lose the number of people that are currently riding the service,” Blankenship said.
The program got a $25 million grant from the federal government and another $21 million from bonds and tax dollars.
“We can reduce congestion and make our communities more livable, and really make this a special place that people really enjoy coming to,” Blankenship said.
The goal is to see the VelociRFTA program boost ridership by as much as 30 percent over the next few years. RFTA says they hope to service about five million people a year by that point, and then they’ll consider it a success.