Feds announce $25 million for Aspen bus system

By Real Aspen
Real AspenAugust 22, 2011
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff today made available nearly $25 million to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for a new express bus service that they say will improve access to jobs and tourist destinations, and relieve roadway congestion in rural Western Rocky Mountain counties that are now among the fastest growing in the state.
A RFTA bus rolls through the valley.
Troy Hooper

“The rugged mountain communities of Roaring Fork Valley increasingly face transportation challenges similar to those found in larger urban areas — including longer commutes,” LaHood said. “Bringing more good transportation choices to the region means the area can continue to grow and still reduce congestion, air pollution and lessen our dependence on costly oil.”

The new bus rapid transit, or BRT, service will provide a boost in comfort, speed and convenience for thousands of workers who now spend hours in their cars commuting to businesses and popular resorts in Aspen and Snowmass Village from outlying communities like Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, where homes are more affordable. It also provides a welcome alternative to sitting in traffic in downtown Aspen or along Highway 82 — a heavily used road that is the main thoroughfare tying the region to the rest of Colorado.

“Whether you’re a hospitality worker commuting to your job at a resort hotel or a tourist visiting for world-class skiing, this state-of-the-art bus service will get you where you need to go, faster and more comfortably than ever,” said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. “And the construction of new bus facilities will bring hundreds of good jobs to the region at a time when they are certainly needed most.”

Features of the new BRT service, called VelociRFTA, include priority travel lanes that keep buses moving through traffic lights, real-time “next bus” information, onboard Wi-Fi service and enclosed bus shelters to protect passengers from rain and snow. Nine bus stations and five park and ride facilities will be built, and 15 new, clean diesel buses will be purchased to provide frequent service along a 40-mile corridor between Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

FTA has committed nearly $25 million — a 54 percent share — of the total $46.1 million project through its Small Starts capital program in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

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