Five days a week
It has been nearly three years since a public bus ran between Gunnison and Denver, but this winter that service is expected to resume, thanks to the efforts of the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Last fall the two transportation agencies and a handful of other partners came close to securing a deal to resume the service to Denver, but no bus operator could provide the intercity service under the proposed budget.
During an RTA meeting last Friday, RTA director Scott Truex said CDOT had increased its share of the funding and the bus service would be a reality. “We will be having bus service to Denver this winter,” he told the board.
“That’s great news,” said board member Jim Starr.
Truex said bus tickets will be $33 per passenger one way. The service is expected to begin around December or January of next year. The bus will run five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Monday and Tuesday night the bus will be stationed in Denver. The bus will “originate” in Gunnison and “terminate” in Denver, either downtown or at the airport. There will also be several stops along the way, including Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs.
The possibility of resuming a bus service to Denver began last fall when the RTA was selected to receive a CDOT 5311 Intercity Bus Service grant totaling $186,000.
This year CDOT increased the grant to approximately $300,000 to cover operational expenses, and an additional $350,000 to provide a transit bus.
“They’re putting a lot of assets into this route. They want to make is successful,” Truex said. He said the RTA was still responsible for a local match of $14,000 to provide the service. Another $28,000 for the service will be provided by several other partners, including Western State College and the Western State Foundation, Chaffee County, Park County, the City of Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs.
RTA board member Hap Channell asked if CDOT was purchasing a bus for the route.
Truex said CDOT set up an agreement with Arrow Stage Lines to lease buses and provide drivers and maintenance. He said the service may utilize a smaller bus between Gunnison and Salida, and then transfer to a larger bus in Salida for the rest of the journey.
RTA board member Jonathan Houck asked where the stop would be in Gunnison.
Truex said Arrow Stage Lines was in the process of negotiating the bus stops, but they were interested in hearing suggestions from the RTA’s Gunnison representatives. Truex suggested a location near one of the RTA bus stops, and Starr agreed.
RTA board member and Gunnison city councilman Stu Ferguson suggested the Loves Country Store; other RTA members agreed it would be a good location. Truex said he would have a representative from Arrow Stage Lines contact Loves.
The Gunnison Valley has been without a bus service to Denver since August 2005.