I-70 Coalition says gas price increases make public transit the most affordable option to and from Front Range | SummitDaily.com

I-70 Coalition says gas price increases make public transit the most affordable option to and from Front Range

I-70 Coalition Director Margaret Bowes pointed to the county’s local public transit options as further reasons why travelers should ditch their personal vehicles

A Summit Stage bus pulls into a stop on Main Street in Frisco on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021. The I-70 Coalition is pushing more riders to take advantage of regional transit options like the Bustang and Pegasus and local transit options such as the Summit Stage as gas prices continue to rise.
Grace Coomaraswamy/For the Summit Daily News

As gas prices continue to hover at above-average rates, there’s one regional organization that is pushing drivers to carpool and take advantage of other modes of transportation instead of driving their own cars in order to save money.

The I-70 Coalition, a nonprofit organization representing 28 local governments and businesses along Colorado’s Interstate 70 mountain corridor, sent out a press release recently about how current gas prices are comparable to what it costs to take public transportation. In some cases, public transit can even be cheaper.

The release noted that the cost of a Bustang West Line ticket is currently more affordable than round-trip travel along the mountains in a personal vehicle. Operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the service’s west line stops in Frisco and Vail, as well as Glenwood Springs, Parachute, Rifle, Grand Junction, Idaho Springs and Denver Union Station.

According to AAA Colorado’s website, the average cost of gas in Colorado is $3.95 per gallon. The I-70 Coalition calculated that a round trip to Vail from the Front Range would cost a single driver approximately $38 with a 26-gallon gas tank — the same size gas tank as the Ford’s F-150, which was identified as Colorado’s most popular vehicle in a recent data analysis. Currently, a Bustang ticket for the same trip is cheaper since it costs $34.

Choosing to ride the Bustang is even more economical when factoring in the cost of gas purchased in Summit County. According to AAA Colorado’s website, the average price of a gallon of gas bought in the county sits at $4.13.

Margaret Bowes, director of the I-70 Coalition, said Front Range visitors wishing to catch a few more days at Vail Ski Resort or Breckenridge Ski Resort will realize even bigger savings. Both resorts close in May.

“The Vail parking garage is somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 a day. The Bustang drops you off at the same parking garage, so you’re saving yourself the parking costs. And you’re in a location where you can walk to the slopes and walk to the village,” Bowes said.

The same can be said for Breckenridge Ski Resort. After the Bustang stops at the Frisco Transit Center, riders can take the free Summit Stage service to Breck Station, thereby saving additional costs on parking too.

Other modes of getting to and from the Front Range include the many shuttle operators based in the county, such as Summit Express. Owner Bob Roppel said that the majority of his Silverthorne-based business is driving clients to and from Denver International Airport.

Roppel said many travelers weigh whether or not to use a service like his against renting a car. In winter months, he said visitors don’t typically need a vehicle of their own if they plan to stay in one area of the county for the majority of their stay. Even summer month vacations are starting to be more feasible without a car.

“During spring or summer, (visitors) may have other activities they want to do. They want to go biking, they want to drive up and see Mount Evans, they want to hike a 14er like Quandary (Peak),” Roppel said. “Up until recently, they would need a car to do most of those things.”

Those looking to have a more luxury experience are in luck too. Stage Coach Luxury Limousine has been based in Summit County for more than 30 years, and though prices are steeper, the service takes clients anywhere they need to go during their stay in Summit County. Owner Raoul Pietri said this doesn’t just include to and from the airport, but also to grocery stores, liquor stores and to and from restaurants.

Bowes said that, in general, the more that drivers can carpool as they hop on I-70 the better. Because this particular roadway provides direct access to many mountain communities, it’s heavily trafficked which can make getting to these communities more of a hassle.

As gas prices are expected to remain high in the coming summer months, Bowes said she encourages riders to visit the I-70 Coalition’s website for a complete list of transit options at GoI70.com/transit.

Bustang: Operates seven days a week to and from Denver. Costs $17 for a one-way ticket from Denver to Vail, less for closer destinations.Pegasus: A new service offered this summer season, the shuttle vans will operate hourly and offer reserved seating from Denver to Avon. Service is available on Friday afternoons, Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays. Stops include Frisco and Vail, as well as Denver Union Station, Lakewood-Denver Federal Center, Idaho Springs, and Avon. Cost is $20 one way from Denver to Avon, less for closer destinations.Snowstang: Operates on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays and drops off riders directly at ski resorts including Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Copper Mountain Resort, as well as Loveland Ski Area and Steamboat Springs Resort. Operates through the end of ski season. Costs $25 for a round trip, kids 2-11 ride free with an adult.Rideshare services like Uber, Lyft and the Frisco-based TreadShareShuttle companies like Summit Express and Peak 1 Express.Locally, riders can take advantage of the Summit Stage and the Breck Free Ride services to get around the county.


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