Finding the nexus…
[ By Mark Reaman ]
The Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) has stepped up with a $30,000 financial contribution to help keep the Late Night Taxi running in the north end of the valley.
Operating under the auspices of the Mountain Express, the late night service is run by Alpine Express and this year the proposed contract saw a big increase in price due to cost increases plus an increase in the number of days being serviced. The RTA committed $30,000 and Mountain Express managing director Jeremy Herzog will now approach the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte for further financial assistance.
Alpine proposed a one-year contract for $210,000 that would have started May 1 and provided service 365 days a year. Customers are charged a $10 fare and the taxi runs between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. so it provides transportation for many people who may have had one (or 10) too many drinks in the local watering holes. Scheduled bus service basically ends at 11:30 p.m. Last year the contract was for $90,000 and provided service of 300 days. More than 3,300 rides were provided in the wee hours. The Mountain Express board of directors did not sign the contract because it lacked the available funds.
“The Late Night Taxi augments service after the buses stop running at about 11:30,” explained Herzog. “Basically 100% of the rides start in Crested Butte and 80% end in Mt. Crested Butte with the other 20% servicing people in locations like Crested Butte South, Riverbend and Buckhorn. There is just not enough consistent demand for a private entity to take on the service.”
RTA executive director Scott Truex said that in the past the RTA never contributed to the service because there was not a clear “nexus” explaining the connection to the RTA bus service area and the board felt that if they contributed to the service in the north end of the valley, they would be expected to do the same for the south end of the valley. “Jeremy provided a lot of data that was helpful and this should cover about 20% of the anticipated subsidy,” said Truex. “I think this request is something the board should seriously consider. If we do receive other similar requests, we would ask for a similar analysis demonstrating the nexus.”
The statistical nexus is that 20% of the Late Night Taxi ridership is going to the RTA service area in the unincorporated county.
While the contract is for $210,000, fares are anticipated to cover about $60,000 and leaving the need for a $150,000 subsidy. The $30,000 is 20% of the expected shortfall.
“This is a viable service,” said RTA board member Boe Freeburn who moved to allocate the $30,000 request which was approved unanimously.
RTA board chair Janet Farmer asked if Herzog was going to approach Crested Butte South for a donation and he said he was focusing on the two towns. “I would anticipate a harder discussion with the two towns,” she told him.
He will approach both the Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte town councils at their next meetings.