RFTA bus ridership up 1% to 4.9 million last year
The valley’s public bus system hauled 4.88 million passengers and took countless private vehicles off the roads in 2015, according to a final tally by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
Ridership was up only 1.5 percent for the year from 2014, but RFTA Chief Executive Officer Dan Blankenship said “modest growth” was welcomed. He said a mild winter in 2014-15 and plummeting gas prices early last year ate into ridership.
There were 71,481 more passengers compared with 2014. The 2014 number was adjusted down when RFTA discovered some riders were counted twice on service in Carbondale.
The 2015 mark fell short of the record 4.9 million passengers set in 2014. The agency is still looking to crack the 5 million barrier for the first time.
Ridership on the relatively new bus-rapid-transit portion of the service continued to climb, though conservatively. The bus-rapid-transit service, which features service every 15 minutes during the heart of summer and winter, was up by 10,922 riders, or 1 percent, to a total of 837,874 passengers. Bus-rapid-transit buses make limited stops between Aspen and downvalley park-and-ride lots.
The overall Roaring Fork Valley commuter service was up 2.5 percent to 2.7 million passengers. That includes bus-rapid-transit, express and local buses, including service to Snowmass Village and throughout the Highway 82 corridor. That service hauled 66,173 more passengers in 2015.
City of Aspen service was down by 31,546 passengers, or 2.84 percent. Blankenship said he suspects many people walked or rode bicycles into town from places like Centennial and Hunter Creek condominiums in the mild winter months in early 2015. Even with the decrease, city service hauled 1.08 million passengers.
Other service that fell included Aspen Skiing Co. free skier shuttles, down 0.53 percent to 552,488; Ride Glenwood Springs, down 4.43 percent to 201,419; and Burlingame, down 20.76 percent to 31,709.
In contrast, Winter X Games charter service ridership was up 2,737 passengers, or 7.56 percent, the bus agency reported. It’s difficult to track how many passengers ride RFTA’s regular service for the X Games.
Maroon Bells service was up by 51,074 passengers or 41.48 percent. The Bells buses hauled 174,202 passengers during the summer and fall.
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