Ride Glenwood Springs South Route shuttle may stay in place until spring
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City leaders considering transit cuts may continue to subsidize an extension of the free Ride Glenwood bus system serving the Glenwood Park and Cardiff Glen areas until spring.
“I’d like to see if we can continue to run it at least through March,” Mayor Bruce Christensen said at the Dec. 2 City Council meeting.
“Right now, there’s no safe way to walk from that area to a bus stop,” he said. “At least the [Atkinson Ditch] trail will be done in April or May, so people will have some alternatives then. But I have a very serious concern about eliminating this in the middle of winter with no notice.”
The route has been recommended for elimination as part of the city’s proposed Transit Operation Plan for 2011 and beyond, due to its high cost and low ridership. While the area accounts for about 20 percent of the city’s population, the South Route only makes up about 7 percent of the overall system ridership, according to the city Transportation Commission.
The route carries about 600 passengers per month, averaging around 24 per day, said city engineer Mike McDill. The route costs the city about $10 per rider, compared to about $2 per rider on the Ride Glenwood main route, he said.
“As much as I hate to eliminate it, I don’t see how we can responsibly subsidize it for that much,” Christensen said.
However, Councilman Dave Sturges said he needs to see a stronger argument for cutting the route.
Sturges noted that he was active with the Community on the Move committee when the city first convinced voters to establish a dedicated sales tax for local transit needs. Initially, the entire city bus system was also supported with a fare system.
“We may have to look at that again,” he said. “I need to hear a lot more reasoning why we should cut this particular service at this time. We need to give broader consideration to making the whole system stronger.”
In addition to the proposed South Route elimination, the Transportation Commission had also recommended cutting Sunday Ride Glenwood service altogether. The recommended cuts are in response to a 10 percent decline in city sales tax revenues over the past two years.
An option to cutting Sunday service would be to consider trimming Ride Glenwood service hours on either end of the day, every day, McDill said.
Either way, there’s a trade-off. While weekend shoppers often use the Sunday bus service, it was also noted that people who get off work later on weeknights also rely on the bus.
The commission had also considered implementing a fare, but it was determined that a reasonable fare would not be enough to keep the South Route going, or make up the subsidy on the main route.
Another recommendation was to do away with the loop onto South Grand Avenue from 23rd Street to 27th Street, and keep buses on Highway 82/South Glen Avenue. However, most council members said they would rather keep a bus stop somewhere near the Sunlight Bridge, especially if the South Route is to be eliminated.
The proposed service cuts and route changes are part of a larger Transit Operation Plan under consideration by City Council, which will make a final decision at its Dec. 16 meeting.
Longer term, the Transit Plan also calls for implementing 15-minute weekday frequency on the main Ride Glenwood route between the Roaring Fork Marketplace to the Glenwood Springs Mall. Service is now every 30 minutes.
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