Gas prices drive up bus ridership |

Gas prices drive up bus ridership

ASPEN ” Workers in the Aspen area continue to turn more and more to public buses as gas prices rise.

Ridership set a record last winter and the growth has continued into the summer, the Aspen Times reported Sunday.

Dan Blankenship, chief executive officer of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said last month’s ridership was up 11.3 percent.

The buses serve Aspen, Snowmass Village, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

During the busy winter season there was standing room only on many buses. It happens occasionally now, too.

“It’s largely at peak times but it can happen any time,” Blankenship said. The growth is expected to continue.

For the year-to-date, RFTA’s ridership is up about 7.5 percent, or 2,585,580 riders compared to 2,406,206 last year, Blankenship said.

The bus agency set a record last year with about 4.45 million riders. At current rates it will total 4.76 million and next year could top 5 million.

The transit agency plans to ask voters for a sales tax increase to boost service and pay for higher fuel costs.

The most dramatic increase has been between Glenwood and Rifle.

Rail service could ultimately be the answer to the region’s transportation needs. But it would require major federal and state funding to use the existing rail corridor, which is owned by the transportation authority, for a line.

The tracks have been removed and the route is used as a pedestrian and bike trail.

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