Summer bus route to Gothic a go

Schedule will be tweaked to build ridership

The feds have spoken and cleared the way for summer bus service to Gothic and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. The Mountain Express service to Gothic will run for the third consecutive summer from early June until the middle of August.



The summer service had been in limbo until last week. Under a federal law passed last year that was designed to help private charter services, if a public service like Mountain Express takes money from a third party and a private bus company wants to provide service, the public company could lose federal funding all together. Last summer, the Gothic bus service was funded through RMBL, Gunnison County and the town of Crested Butte.
But Crystal Frederick of the Federal Transit Administration informed Mountain Express and RMBL via an e-mail that the summer service would be considered “seasonal service” as opposed to charter service. This cleared the way for summer bus service through Mountain Express.
“We are very pleased,” said RMBL executive director Dr. Ian Billick. “It is a great service that became more successful as the summer went on.”
Many parents put their children on the bus for RMBL summer classes. Billick said Gothic residents began using the transportation to get into town, and even mountain bikers started using the bus so they could avoid a dusty Gothic Road before hitting trails north of Gothic.
Mountain Express manager Chris Larsen said the route was very popular the last two summers. “That ruling clears the way for summer service,” he said. “We are looking at a schedule very similar to last year, which ran five days a week including a Saturday. We will get together with RMBL to work out a final schedule.”
Billick said there would probably be a little tweaking with the summer schedule. “We want to make sure we continue to build ridership,” he said. “Saturdays were getting more and more popular at the end of the summer. The kids use it, the tourists use it, bikers use it and so do the people living up here.”
At its meeting Monday morning, the Mountain Express board of directors agreed to provide the service. While an exact date has yet to be set, the service will start again in June.
In other Mountain Express news, chairman Bill Dickerson has resigned after a 17-year ride with the board. He wants to travel the U.S.A. So, the board is now looking to fill a “member-at-large” position.

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