RTA explores potential second bus on Denver route

“The more buses we run, the more people ride”

By Kendra Walker

The Gunnison Valley Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) board of directors is discussing the possibility of adding a second bus to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Bustang service between Gunnison and Denver. 

“We would have a bus that would start and finish in Gunnison and one that starts and finishes in Denver,” said RTA executive director Scott Truex. He explained that there have been some initial conversations about a second bus with CDOT and Bustang, which are open to the idea and would be amenable to purchasing another bus. 

“Depending on the amount of passes and fares, the cost to RTA and our partners could be $200,000 to $250,000 a year to have a second bus,” Truex said. It costs a total of approximately $400,000 a year to run the bus. Truex continued, “We would like permission to explore the possibility of funding this bus to start sometime in spring or summer of 2020.”

Truex also reported that the current Bustang averages about 15 riders for a one-way route. “By having the connectivity of two buses a day, the more buses we run, the more people ride,” he said.

“I think this is a great opportunity to have that connectivity on a daily basis for both ways,” said board chair John Messner. “I speculate that we’ll see ridership significantly increase.”

“I think the folks from Western [Colorado University] will really like it,” added board member Janet Farmer.

“It will also create an opportunity for folks to come to Crested Butte to just ski, rather than drive themselves,” said Messner.

It has also been discussed that—ideally, in the future—RTA would like to start the route from Crested Butte. 

The board also considered using this opportunity to update some of the ticketing features of the current Bustang. Currently, tickets cannot be bought in advance. Having no guarantee at a bus seat is one of the biggest customer complaints, said Alpine Express operations manager Pam Cook. 

“I would like to change that so there would be an online ticketing option,” said Truex. “I want that to be part of the discussion with CDOT.”

The board agreed to begin outreach to potential partners to help fund the second bus, including Western Colorado University and areas that benefit along the route like Park County, and start the conversation with the county entities each board member represents. 

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