Summit County a potential stop on CDOT’s proposed interregional bus system
The Colorado Department of Transportation could be the first state agency of its kind to launch regional bus service if the Transportation Commission approves a plan to connect Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and mountain corridor commuters to Denver.
During a recent meeting with the Summit Board of County Commissioners, CDOT officials outlined the Interregional Express Bus plan, saying it was created to bridge the gaps among the state’s existing bus systems, such as Summit Stage, and to connect them to employment centers on the Front Range.
The plan proposes three routes, including peak weekday commuter bus service from Fort Collins and Colorado Springs to Denver Union Station. Although much of the proposed service is focused on the Front Range, CDOT has pledged to provide one coach bus for a daily commuter trip from Glenwood Springs to Denver Union Station.
In an effort to maximize ridership throughout the system, CDOT has decided to stage bus stops at or near existing park and ride stations to provide broad access along the three proposed routes.
As it stands, the bus line running through the mountains would take advantage of several park and ride stations in the High Country, including Glenwood Springs, Eagle, Vail and Frisco, before continuing down the hill to the Denver Federal Center and ultimately ending at Denver Union Station.
The bus would depart at 7:20 a.m. weekdays from Glenwood Springs, with return service departing at 6 p.m. from Denver Union Station.
CDOT estimates daily ridership at 18 to 36 passengers, which is far below the ridership estimates for the Fort Collins and Colorado Springs routes of 171 to 257 and 371 to 556 daily passengers, respectively. However, CDOT anticipates there would be enough passengers to add a second, slightly shorter round-trip between Vail and Denver in the future.
Fares to ride the commuter bus are estimated to run at about 17 cents per mile, or $28 per trip to ride from Glenwood Springs to Denver. Vail to Denver would cost an estimated $17 per trip. Discounts would be available for 10-, 20- and 40-trip punch cards.
In order to provide the regional service, CDOT officials are proposing the purchase of 13 “over the road” coach buses featuring 50 passenger capacity, handicap access, reclining seats, fold-down tray tables, Wi-Fi and 110 volt electrical outlets, restrooms and bike racks.
CDOT estimates it will cost $10.9 million in initial capital to launch the regional bus system. It has received half of those funds from Front Range Express proceeds and unallocated Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery money approved in 2009 under Senate Bill 108.
Surprisingly, the other half of the start-up capital is coming from unallocated money approved in 1997 by Senate Bill 1.
“Everyone thought that money was long spent,” said assistant Summit County manager Thad Noll. “There hasn’t been any Senate Bill 1 allocations in about five years, but someone found some additional unallocated funds in the pot.”
The CDOT Transportation Commission is scheduled to host a work session Wednesday about the proposed regional bus system. If the plan is approved this month, CDOT officials hope to begin a public outreach campaign in the spring of next year in anticipation of launching regional service before the end of 2014.
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