Gonna need a ticket to Ride

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Glenwood Springs City Council on Thursday formally adopted a new $1-per-ride fare for the Ride Glenwood city bus system.

The service has been offered free to riders for the past seven years, but did involve a fare prior to 2005. The new fare is to take effect in early April.

Public outreach will be done in the coming weeks to make sure riders know about the fare implementation.

Under the new fare plan, children under age 5 who are riding with an adult would be able to board for free.

Once the system is implemented, the city intends to look at ways to allow senior citizens and students to re-board a bus within a certain amount of time after paying their fare. Eventually, the city would also like to offer discounted multi-ride passes.

“This is the same fare collection system that RFTA [Roaring Fork Transportation Authority] is planning to use on its new Bus Rapid Transit system,” noted Councilman Ted Edmonds, who also sits on the RFTA board. “We are kind of the guinea pigs.”

As a result, it will take some time to figure out how best to utilize the system, he said.

Ride Glenwood costs the city roughly $1 million per year to operate. In recent years, declining bus tax funds have meant the city had to dip into its streets tax fund to subsidize the system.

“It’s an unfortunate place where the city finds itself,” City Manager Jeff Hecksel said, noting that several service cuts were made last year, including discontinuation of the south route along Midland Avenue to the Glenwood Park and Cardiff Glen areas.

“Without additional revenue, it’s conceivable that bus service will have to continue to be cut, and it’s questionable whether it would be viable to continue it at all,” Hecksel said at the Thursday council meeting.

The new fare is expected to bring in about $200,000 to $250,000 per year.

A handful of bus riders, from senior citizens to high school students, urged the council to consider a discount or re-boarding option for students and seniors.

“I would ask you to make it possible for certain groups to ride as courtesy passengers,” said Glenwood resident and regular bus rider Susan Clark.

She also suggested that the city consider giving bus passes to people who do volunteer service work in the community.

GSHS student Cynthia Pena said many students won’t be able to afford a dollar every time they get on the bus. That can be many times a day, she said.

“I would like to thank you for providing seven years of free transportation for all of us,” Pena said.

City Council intends to revisit the fare system and how it’s working, as well as how it affects bus ridership, in about three months.

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