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RTA senior shuttle and valley-wide bus use continue to climb in 2017

Late-night issues getting better; Denver service might expand

by Mark Reaman

Bus ridership through the Gunnison Valley Transportation Authority (RTA) continues to climb both with the valley-wide bus service and with the expanded senior citizen shuttle. RTA executive director Scott Truex told the board at the March 10 meeting that 26,000 passengers, a new monthly record, used the transit system between Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte in January.

He also said the senior bus is being used a lot more than in the past. In February, Truex said, the senior bus was used for 957 trips. “When we started it was being used about 300 times per month so it is getting a lot of use with the increased service and people really appreciate it,” Truex said.

“All the bus service is getting more robust, as we promised the voters it would during the election,” noted RTA board member Jonathan Houck.

Late-night barf problem getting better

One bus issue that is seeing a welcome decline is the late-night bus vomit issue. People taking the late bus from Crested Butte to Gunnison seemed to use it as a party bus and in the early winter there were several incidents of passengers who may have had a bit much to drink, regurgitating the night’s fun. That was absolutely no fun for the bus drivers and other passengers and put the late-night bus into jeopardy.

J.P. Frymoyer of Alpine Express, the company that runs the bus system, reported to the board that there appears to have been a decline in the number of incidents but there were three such vomit incidents in a single week in January.

“Overall the word is out that there are cameras on the buses and people will be held accountable if there are late-night bus issues,” said Frymoyer. “I think that has definitely had a good impact.”

The RTA also reiterated its stance that the RTA will not run extra late-night buses for special events. Frymoyer said requests for such service have been increasing and cited the recent Wall-to-Wall party and upcoming Soul Train Night as two examples.

“Our primary goal is to move people up and down the valley to work,” said Houck. “Our schedule works for the majority of people. Doing a one-off run for special events is not part of the schedule.”

RTA board member John Messner reminded everyone that buses could be privately contracted to provide such late-night service.

Frymoyer responded that people simply do not want to pay for that service. The Mountain Express bus system that runs between Crested Butte and Mountain Express routinely runs such special late-night service during special events and Truex said people may be mistakenly assuming that all the transit systems are available for such requests. They are not.

Denver bus expansion?

Messner also wanted the RTA staff to investigate the possibility of expanding the bus service between Gunnison and Denver. He said Western State Colorado University students utilize that bus service but having a second bus on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays might make their transportation lives a lot more convenient with more alternative travel times.

Western’s vice president for student affairs Gary Pierson said the bus route was an important amenity for WSCU students.

Truex said he would begin the process of pursuing the request in depth and had already received some positive feedback on the idea from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which coordinates the program.

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