Grant keeps RFTA running in Rifle |

Grant keeps RFTA running in Rifle

RIFLE – Mary Craner of Rifle rides the bus four days a week to her job in Glenwood Springs.And thanks to a large donation made to the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority by the Garfield County Commissioners last month, the bus service will continue.That’s good news for riders of the Grand Hogback route between Rifle and Glenwood, some of whom were sorely disappointed when Rifle voters on Nov. 7 opted not to approve a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to help fund the service.”I was extremely disappointed that the tax failed,” said Craner, who campaigned in favor of it. “We handed out fliers and brochures – and everybody seemed to be for it. We did the best we could. There are so many people who are dependent on it.”In late October, the commissioners voted to contribute $248,000 to RFTA to help keep the bus service running.Because of the donation, despite the failure of the Rifle sales tax portion, the Hogback route is still secure – for now – according to Dan Blankenship, executive director of RFTA. In fact, there may even be some improvements to the downvalley run, including the addition of a 6:05 p.m. bus from Glenwood Springs to Rifle.The route costs between $600,000 and $700,000 per year to operate, Blankenship said. RFTA reported 56,000 passengers last year and expects to serve 62,000 riders this year.And although Rifle voters did not approve the tax increase, the city still intends to give money to RFTA.”We will still make a contribution as a city, but it certainly won’t be anywhere near the amount that would have been generated by the tax,” said Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert.Both Blankenship and Lambert said they felt timing was an issue in getting the tax passed. It was a matter of weeks between the time Rifle City Council members agreed to put the measure on the ballot and the date of the election.”It’s nobody’s fault,” Blankenship said. “In retrospect, it might have been better if we put it on the ballot in 2007. There were a lot of issues on the (2006) ballot. And this was pretty far down. I think people didn’t understand and just voted ‘no.'”

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