Summit Stage officials look at potential Park County commuter bus
Summit Stage officials are researching the possibility of a new bus route, linking Summit and Park counties. With the number of Fairplay and Alma residents who commute to Breckenridge daily for work amounting to 86 Park County residents out of 410, according to a 2012 survey, ridership for the proposed service is estimated at just over 11,000 annually.
“This is based on the Lake County to Summit route,” Summit Stage planner Bruce Camping said, referring to the commuter bus between Frisco and Leadville. The “Lake County Link” is a fare-required bus system that runs one-way routes in each direction twice daily.
Similarly, the proposed route would ask a $4 fare, running between Fairplay and Breckenridge three times per day.
“It operates in the morning to get commuters to their jobs or their recreation in Summit County, and then there are afternoon return trips to get people back to where they live,” Camping added.
With proposed stops running from Fairplay’s Sinclair gas station and Main Street to the Breckenridge Station, the route would travel between the two towns in just over 40 minutes, with proposed stops at Alma, Quandary, Blue River and others.
The project is still in very early stages of development, as a 50-50 matching grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation to Park County would be crucial to funding.
“It’s all based on the possibility of getting a CDOT grant,” Camping said.
While Park County would apply to CDOT for federal transportation funds in early June, Summit Stage transit director Jim Andrew said that Summit Stage would operate the route including providing two buses, with both the grant and the fares helping cover operating costs estimated at just over $200,000.
“We just got the paperwork yesterday to review,” said Tammie Crawford of the Fairplay Public Works Department. “It’s really in the infant stages.”
While the feasibility study showed the majority of Fairplay residents own two or three vehicles, several residents expressed their support of a bus to Breckenridge.
“I know that there are a lot of people who live in Park County and travel to work in Breckenridge because I see how busy Highway 9 is on my daily commute. A bus route between Park and Summit would be a great service, one that I would be willing to pay for,” one Park County resident wrote in response to the survey.
Others said they would use the service occasionally for ski trips or avoiding snowy conditions traveling over the pass. But just as many respondents expressed that they had no need for the service or did not want it at all.
“This is NOT Denver or one of the ski resort towns! Do not junk up our highway (and further burden the taxpayers) with empty buses that no one will use,” another resident wrote on the survey.
Whether further progress on the project will be made is yet to be determined. Camping said if both counties approve a project and Park County does receive a grant, the earliest residents could expect to see the buses would be June of next year.
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