Breckenridge van pool runs into dead end
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Breckenridge employee Vicki Coughlin is searching for a “Hoosier hopper” since the town-sponsored experiment with a van pool to Fairplay ended on Thursday.
The weekday service ” through which employees and the town split the costs of a chartered van ” was canceled after two months because of low ridership, leaving commuters like Coughlin mulling other options.
Her daily journey over Hoosier Pass is about 35 miles each way, and she resents paying more than $5 per gallon to fill her Ford Power Stroke F-250 diesel truck.
Coughlin, a town bus driver, said the hoppers ” usually four-wheel-drive, energy-efficient Subarus ” are a popular option for folks frequently traveling the pass.
So now she is looking for something “cheap, little (and) with good gas mileage.”
Town public works director Terry Perkins said Breckenridge started the van-shuttle program because it not only benefits the staff members who live in Park County but also helps reduce carbon footprints.
“It’s a great idea,” he said. “I also think it’s very commendable for the town to go ahead and think outside the box.”
But the program hasn’t attracted enough day-to-day riders to make it cost effective.
On Wednesday, only Coughlin, streets supervisor Spencer Esch and senior operator Chip Buttrick commuted via the nine-passenger van.
“It seems like everybody likes their independence,” Coughlin said.
The riders commented that people may be averse to change or have schedules that don’t fit the 5:10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. departures.
Coughlin’s day ends before the van leaves; she said she sometimes goes hiking to kill time.
Vanpool Services, Inc. provided the van at $1,312 a month, Perkins said. With the town covering half of the costs, the plan was to have the remaining $656 split among the nine passengers, or $73 per passenger each month.
“And we only have four to five that are riding on any frequent type of basis ” the numbers just don’t work,” Perkins said.
Additionally, it would cost more now, as the two-month trial was based on gas prices of $3.50 per gallon.
The town continues to look for public and private partners to help resurrect the shuttle, Perkins said.
Buttrick, who said commuting in his diesel truck was costing him $150 or more to fill every two weeks, has carpooled for about seven of the nine years he’s worked for
He prefers the van pool, as it doesn’t add wear and tear to personal vehicles and provides better savings.
The problem with low ridership, he said, seems to be “an unwillingness to change habits.”
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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