Pricey Hogback route expansion discussed by Garfield County commissioners |

Pricey Hogback route expansion discussed by Garfield County commissioners

Bus riders catch the bus to New Castle, Silt and Rifle at the Hogback bus stop near the Hotel Colorado.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

hogback extension to battlement mesa

Scenario 1 - Battlement Mesa circulator - Rifle Walmart

91,250 service miles, $685,000 estimated cost, $68,500 estimated fare revenue, $616,500 estimated net cost

Scenario 2 - Battlement Mesa - Rifle Walmart (60 min.)

82,308 service miles, $665,000 estimated cost, $66,500 estimated fare revenue, $598,500 estimated net cost

Scenario 3 - Battlement Mesa - Rifle Walmart (40 min.)

105,120 service miles, $715,000 estimated cost, $71,500 estimated fare revenue, $643,500 estimated net cost

Garfield County Commissioners heard proposals from Roaring Fork Transportation Authority officials earlier this week on how the Grand Hogback commuter bus service could be extended into Battlement Mesa. Commissioners opted to wait to get input from the people that would use the service the most before moving forward.

“We can be as aggressive as we want… but we need input from Parachute, Battlement Mesa and Rifle,” Commissioner Mike Samson said. “We need to include them in this discussion and get their input before we get into a multimillion dollar deal.”

Samson proposed that RFTA and the commissioners host a work session and invite all of the west end of the county to join,

“We need to hear from the people on what is going to work for them,” he said.

RFTA officials presented three potential scenarios to the board at a Tuesday work session, each one extending the Hogback bus service into Battlement Mesa while taking a slightly different route along the way.

The first scenario makes several stops in Battlement Mesa before heading to the Rifle Park-and-Ride and Rifle Walmart, while the other two just head from Battlement Mesa straight to Rifle with fewer stops. Scenario 2 has a two-hour frequency with a stop at Metro Park, while Scenario 3 has an hour and 20 minute frequency with no stops at Metro Park.

According to RFTA’s analysis of the extension to Battlement Mesa, Scenario 2 presented the best deal at an estimated net service cost of $598,500. Scenario 1 was estimated to cost $616,500 and Scenario 3 was estimated at $643,500.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said he liked the second option and added that he wanted to see the Hogback service extended.

“We are not taking care of 10 to 15 percent of our population in Parachute and Battlement Mesa,” he said. “I think we need to find a way to get this done. Folks in the west end are being left out.”

In September, RFTA went before the board to request to continue the Grand Hogback’s extended schedule during the Grand Avenue bridge closure, which was denied by the commissioners at that time.

That service would have provided half-hour frequency between Rifle and Glenwood Springs during the peak morning and afternoon commuting hours. It would have also included several additional midday trips to help fill in some of the lengthy gaps in the existing service that make it challenging for some people to use. The allocated operating cost for the service, net of fares for 2018, would have been $684,000.

According to materials presented to the commissioners, due to inefficiencies associated with extensive annual hours and miles needed to add service (6,854 hours and 205,477 miles total), the estimated fully allocated annual operating cost for an expansion of the Hogback into Battlement Mesa would be $884,566.

RFTA estimates it would generate less than $100,000 in annual fare revenue.

The annual operating cost of the existing Grand Hogback bus service is approximately $1,089,733, RFTA officials said.

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