‘Feeder’ RFTA buses for Carbondale? | PostIndependent.com

‘Feeder’ RFTA buses for Carbondale?

Gregory Conroy
Carbondale correspondent

CARBONDALE ” Carbondale officials and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority are discussing a small “feeder” bus system to improve downtown bus service.

First, though, the town must figure out how to pay for the service and town trustees want assurance that citizens will actually use it.

The feeder system could improve the speed of RFTA’s valleywide service ” its large commuter buses would only need to serve the new park-and-ride lot on Highway 133 ” while smaller buses would link greater Carbondale to the park-and-ride hub.

“Certainly, we would like to see options for citizens expanded,” said Mayor Michael Hassig. “But we run headlong into what is the real cost.”

In 2001, Basalt analyzed the cost of an in-town bus system operating from 14 to 16 hours per day, making the rounds twice an hour. The cost came to more than $750,000 annually.

Police Chief Gene Schilling drew up some potential feeder bus routes for Carbondale and presented them to the Town Board at its Tuesday meeting.

One proposal would put two buses in circulation, one on each of two routes, ensuring service every half-hour. The other option had just once bus alternating between the two routes, meaning service at some stops just once an hour. At major stops along Highway 133, where the routes overlap, service every 30 minutes could be achieved.

The cost of the more frequent service was a concern for Trustee John Foulkrod.

“An hour wait is a long time if you miss a bus,” he said. “But I also question the need of a half-hour bus service. Are we overbusing it?”

Trustee Russ Criswell suggested perhaps RFTA could cover the cost of the service as a result of the money saved by not sending its larger buses beyond the park-and-ride, located a short distance off Highway 82.

Aside from funding the feeder routes, trustees pondered the demand for the service.

“We need to find out, who are these people riding the bus?” Hassig said.

Trustee Ed Cortez agreed. “I don’t want to waste any time and money on something that doesn’t work,” he said.

RFTA General Manager Dan Blankenship said his agency, too, lacks the information to judge whether a feeder bus system would be appropriate for Carbondale.

“If we come up with something that Carbondale is not keen on, it will be really tough for us to move,” Blankenship said.

RFTA planner Jason White suggested surveying citizens on the need for a feeder system in Carbondale.

RFTA plans to return to the board with data to help the town determine the demand for in-town feeder buses.

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