Maroon Bells bus fare increases
The fare for the bus ride to Maroon Lake will increase $2 this summer, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board of directors decided Thursday.
The fee will increase from $6 to $8 for adults. The fare for youth 6 to 16 years of age and seniors 65 years of age and older will increase from $4 to $6.
The increase is needed to offset some of the subsidy for the operation.
The fare hasn’t been increased since 2004 on the popular bus service, according to RFTA’s records. The board said it wants an annual review.
Maroon Bells visitors will get hit with a double increase. Aspen Skiing Co. will charge a $5 fee to park in the garage at Aspen Highlands this summer. The Maroon Bells buses depart from Highlands. Parking used to be free, but Skico officials said the company must cover its expenses.
Some RFTA officials believe the parking fee coupled with the bus fare increase could result in a decrease in riders. RFTA staff said each 10 percent increase in price for mass transit tends to result in a 4 percent loss of ridership.
Pitkin County Commissioner and RFTA board alternate George Newman said that price elasticity model is likely better suited for commuter and urban service.
“That model might not be as accurate when there’s a destination,” he said. A $2 fee increase won’t deter visitors from an important stop on their vacation, he said.
Snowmass Village Mayor and RFTA board member Markey Butler agreed. “People who come here are going to pay whatever it takes to get up there. I’m not opposed to a $2 increase, but I would be opposed to anything higher than that,” she said.
The hike was approved unanimously. RFTA will increase the part of the pie that the U.S. Forest Service receives from bus ticket sales from 50 cents to 65 cents.
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