Year-round bus service expands to Breck’s Peak 8
BRECKENRIDGE – Year-round, late-night service to Peak 8, half-hour bus service to Warrior’s Mark and a new bus route through French Gulch are changes Breckenridge transit riders can expect to see this winter.
Those changes, most of which go into effect Monday, are the biggest among a variety of others designed to make the Free Ride, ski area and Summit Stage bus routes less confusing to riders.
Other changes provide better linkages between bus systems in town and the Summit Stage. One of them shifts the town hub from City Market to Breckenridge Station.
Breckenridge Station is located adjacent to F-Lot, across the street from One Breckenridge Place and Cimarron condominiums along South Park Avenue and next door to the Village at Breckenridge and the Maggie portal to Peaks 9 and 10.
This year’s improvements are the second step of a blending of the ski and town bus systems. Last year, town and ski area officials created the Free Ride system to alleviate confusion guests often had trying to figure out how town buses, ski area buses, transit stops and maps worked.
Purple and Blue
The biggest change is the elimination of the town’s Purple Route, which started at City Market, went south on French Street to the town ice rinks on Boreas Pass Road, then to Breckenridge Station, up Four O’Clock Road to Beaver Run, back to the ice rinks and ending at City Market.
The Blue Route, which served the Peak 8 and 9 bed bases, also used to run along French Street, but only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the ski season.
“By eliminating the Purple Route and putting those resources onto the Blue Route, we won’t have similar services on French Street,” said town Transit Director Jim Benkelman. “Now it makes more sense.”
The Blue Route will remain essentially the same, except the hours will run from 6:30 a.m. to midnight year-round, and the route will be extended to the ice rink parking lot, which also serves as a commuter lot.
“The biggest perk is that we can now add service to Peak 8 on a year-round basis without adding any cost to the system,” Benkelman said. “It used to be everyone got bummed out in April when that service (ski area-provided Blue Route) would end. Now it’s not going to end.”
Both the Purple and Blue routes were used heavily during winter months, and to address that need, two buses will be added to the Blue Route from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. That will result in 20-minute service during peak periods, Benkelman said.
Brown and Black
Half-hour bus service on the Brown Route will be offered in the Warrior’s Mark neighborhood. Transit officials are fine-tuning details that would take Summit Stage service from Warrior’s Mark and put those resources into a route serving French Creek, Wellington Neighborhood, Vista Point and Gibson Heights in French Gulch.
According to Benkelman, that route – the Black Route – would start at Breckenridge Station, go north on Park to City Market, then to Highway 9, up County Road 450 to the French Gulch neighborhoods. On the way back to Breckenridge Station, the bus would detour to the town recreation center and City Market.
Buses on that route will provide hourly service from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. That route is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 8, Benkelman said.
Another route change along the Stage’s Boreas Pass route likely will remove buses from French Street and instead route them through Breckenridge Station. That will reduce congestion along French Street and streamline routes between the systems, Benkelman said.
Additionally, the Free Ride’s French Gulch and Summit Stage’s Boreas Pass routes will probably be served by a smaller, gas-powered bus instead of a diesel bus because they primarily serve residential areas.
All the routes are subject to testing and tweaking in the next two weeks, at which point the maps will be sent to the printer.
“It won’t be surprising if we alter the times slightly,” Benkelman said. “We put it all on paper and think everything is OK, but once you get out there in a bus and start picking up people, you sometimes need to change the times.”
This year’s changes could be the last until the proposed ski area gondola is built, Benkelman said.
“We think we have enough experience to know what works and what people want,” he said. “The ski area, the town and the Stage are working closer than they’ve ever worked before to see that public transportation really works in this community. It’s one more step in simplifying the system.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or email@example.com.
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