RFTA promises to deliver new tax perks down valley starting this year
Voters rode with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Destination 2040 campaign last election cycle, and can expect benefits to arrive at three down-valley stops long before that time.
As evidenced by the returns, while many voters from Aspen to New Castle took issue with RFTA’s Ballot Issue 7A, ultimately the 2.65-mill levy property tax question passed in the Nov, 6, 2018 election, with 1,002 more ‘yeas’ than ‘nays.’
Here’s what voters in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle can expect in return.
Beginning April 22, the Carbondale Circulator, which carries riders for free between the Carbondale Park and Ride and several mid-town bus stops, is scheduled to start operating on weekends in the off seasons, RFTA’s Chief Operating Officer Kurt Ravenschlag confirmed.
Also, WE-Cycle, the community-supported bike share program, which currently has stations in Aspen, Basalt, El Jebel, and Willits, will launch efforts to expand farther down valley, too, with a helping hand from RFTA.
“RFTA staff is coordinating with WE-Cycle for an expected 2020 expansion of [the] bike sharing in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs,” Ravenschlag said.
Moving farther down Colorado Highway 82, also beginning April 22, RFTA is expected to begin operating its VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service on weekends during the off seasons between Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
At that same time, “RFTA will begin operating local valley service every 30 minutes after 8:15 p.m. between Aspen and Glenwood Springs,” Ravenschlag added. Currently, the BRT system operates just hourly after 8:15 p.m.
Ravenschlag said that, throughout the course of 2019, RFTA staff will begin planning and designing for a pedestrian grade separation crossing of 27th Street at the Rio Grande Trail and Highway 82. And, RFTA will also start developing plans for expansion of parking at Glenwood’s 27th Street Park and Ride.
When asked what 7A’s passage meant for the future of Ride Glenwood, the city’s year-round public transit bus service, Ravenschlag replied that RFTA was currently in coordination efforts with the city to better understand the proposed timing of alterations to Ride Glenwood.
The city last year indicated that it may phase out the city-run Ride Glenwood service, which is contracted out to RFTA, if the transit agency would extend more-frequent bus routes into the downtown and outlying areas of Glenwood Springs.
According to Ravenschlag, before that decision was made, RFTA was already in the planning stages for station and transit center improvements for downtown Glenwood Springs to support the extension of BRT service to downtown Glenwood.
RFTA Board member and New Castle Mayor Art Riddile said in a recent interview that he had already seen an uptick in the number of vehicles in the small town’s 65-space park and ride.
“It is half full most of the time. Prior to the Grand Avenue Bridge detour, there were four or five cars in there,” Riddile said. “So people, because of the detour, got introduced to the bus system and obviously a lot of them enjoyed it and continue to use it.”
Being that many of New Castle’s residents work in Glenwood Springs and points east, a big selling point for the town just a few miles down I-70 was increased bus service.
“Beginning with the 2019-20 winter season, the [Grand] Hogback service between New Castle and Glenwood Springs will operate every 30 minutes in the peak hours. Currently, it is hourly service during peak hours,” Ravenschlag said.