Fresh on the heels of overseeing a $46 million expansion, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority CEO Dan Blankenship got a vote of confidence — and a raise — from the bus agency’s board of directors.
The board approved a $14,000 raise, from $131,000 in salary to $145,000, after emerging from a closed session at Thursday’s monthly meeting to conduct an annual review of Blankenship’s performance, according to board chairwoman Jacque Whitsitt. The vote was unanimous, she said.
It was Blankenship’s first raise since January 2009. He has been with RFTA and the entity that preceded it since 1989.
The board also voted to raise the salary for the position by 2.5 percent annually in coming years until it gets to the midpoint of a range that was determined through a survey of similar positions, Whitsitt said. That increase will occur regardless of whom fills the position.
RFTA completed a multi-year expansion in September under Blankenship’s guidance. More comfortable and functional stations along with parking lots were constructed in strategic spots in the valley. Buses were added to make more frequent, direct trips between Aspen and Glenwood Springs and major stops in between.
It’s too soon to gauge the effects of the expansion. However, RFTA’s ridership increased 4.26 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the agency. RFTA buses hauled 4.14 million passengers last year compared to 3.98 million the prior year.
The regional service along Highway 82 was up 10 percent in 2013. That service best reflects the impact of the expanded service.
Blankenship oversees an agency that has 238 full-time, 26 part-time and 64 seasonal employees at its peak during winters. That includes about 200 drivers.
The agency utilizes about 76 full-size buses at any given time during winter operations and it has a fleet of about 90 with spares.
RFTA has a budget of about $41 million for operating and capital expenses in 2014.