A new private transit service, Blue River Shuttles, is now open for business, providing a long-awaited connection between Fairplay, Alma, Blue River and Breckenridge.
Long-time local and owner Eric Munden said he started the fledgling shuttle business where he saw the greatest need.
"As far as I know, there isn't any sort of shuttle system that does exactly what I do," Munden said. "I know that Summit County is incredibly easy to get around without a vehicle, but up until now that wasn't the case from Blue River onward. I'm hoping to change that."
Many people who work in Breckenridge live in Alma or Fairplay and, without a bus service, have to commute by car. Limited parking availability is an ongoing problem in Breckenridge.
The Summit Stage, Summit County's free public bus system, doesn't run any farther south than Breckenridge.
The new shuttle service doesn't eliminate the need for a southern public bus route in Summit County, Blue River officials said. But it does provide a needed service while the Summit Stage transit board and the Town of Blue River are working on the expensive project of a expanding the Stage service.
"(A bus route) is still in our visioning and our long-range plans," Blue River Mayor Lindsay Backas said. "But for the interim we're thrilled (to have Blue River Shuttles). It's wonderful for the people of the town and the people who are renting out their homes, because up until this point we've had nothing."
This is the first season Blue River Shuttles has been in business. So far, its riders have been primarily employees commuting between Fairplay and Breckenridge, but Munden said he hopes the service will catch on with tourists as well.
"It's designed for employees and tourists," Munden said. "It might take a season or two, but I think this is going to be a pretty dependable system."
Currently, the shuttle runs as a "call and demand" service with regular routes. Blue River Shuttles operates two vans and two buses, which depart from Fairplay at 90 minute intervals in the morning, stopping when and where they're requested in Alma, Blue River and finally in Breckenridge. The buses and vans then leave Breckenridge, again at regular intervals, in the afternoon.
In between, the shuttle service runs 24 hours a day on reservations wherever and whenever its customers ask to be picked up and dropped off.
"Currently it's reservation only," Munden said. "That's because I cover so much ground from Fairplay to Breckenridge. There are so many stops it would take to be convenient that it would take an hour-and-a-half for the route to be complete."
By working on a reservation-only system, Munden said his route takes a total of about 45 minutes.
A shuttle ride between Fairplay and Breckenridge costs $10 roundtrip for an adult and $8 roundtrip for kids age 15 and younger. Blue River Shuttles offers discounted 10 one-way-trip and 40 one-way-trip punch passes as well as discounts for employees.
More details are available online at www.bluerivershuttles.com.