Free senior shuttle service will launch this week |

Free senior shuttle service will launch this week

Starting this week, a free van service will shuttle senior citizens up and down the Crystal Valley between Redstone and Carbondale. The service is slated for a six-month trial with vans running every other Wednesday.”We’re excited about offering services to Crystal Valley seniors,” said Marty Ames of Pitkin County Senior Service. Redstone is some 20 miles from Carbondale and Highway 133 is a curvy road, she said. The idea behind the new service is to decrease the amount of time that Redstone seniors spend on the road, which is especially treacherous in winter. The program offers new options for those Redstone seniors who cannot or will not drive.Upvalley areas, in the triangle between Woody Creek, Snowmass and Aspen, have the highest concentration of seniors, said Ames. Services in that area are extensive, including nine hours of free shuttle service four times a week, as well as lunches and various classes and workshops at the senior center in Aspen.But seniors in rural parts are out of the loop. Ames and the Senior Council, which is the citizen body of the senior center, are looking to change that.”Redstone was our first target for developing some services to rural Pitkin County residents,” Ames said. “We had 2 community meetings and had a survey of seniors in Redstone to see what they most wanted.” “Transportation!” was the hew and cry.”After looking at all possibilities,” said Ames, “we’re going to use a county vehicle and hire a county employee.”Senior transport elsewhere in Pitkin County is run through the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA), but Redstone service will makes use of a county van that normally shuttles public works employees to job sites.”This was a great cooperative effort between county departments,” Ames said.Vans will leave every other Wednesday from Redstone, with loop departures at 9:30 and again at noon. Where possible, riders are picked up at their door, and otherwise will meet at a designated spot. Riders leaving on the early bus have a choice of staying in Carbondale for a few hours and returning on the afternoon loop, or they can spend 45 minutes or so in town and return on the same bus.”It doesn’t sound like much,” Ames said, “but if you live in Redstone and the closest grocery is 20 miles away this is a great opportunity.”And they’re kicking it all off with a party. The “maiden voyage group” of 10 passengers (five have signed up so far) will leave Redstone at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 6, and will be treated to breakfast at the Village Smithy Restaurant in Carbondale before a small celebration at City Market.Funding for the pilot project comes from a state grant and “a little help from Pitkin County,” Ames said. “If it is successful,” she added, “we want to turn it into an ongoing program.””We’re excited about. There are 16 people who said they’ll ride the van,” she said, “and hopefully this will be a valuable service to them.”Charles Agar’s e-mail address is

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