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Sheltered bus stops are an expensive proposition

The primary amenity at RFTA’s Aspen Glen bus stop is a metal sign pole for riders to lean against, or clutch, as they wait for their bus to arrive.Downvalley from Aspen Glen at the Colorado Mountain College turnoff, the upvalley and downvalley bus stops feature two amenities: a metal sign pole, and big trash cans tired riders sometimes squat upon.Bus stops in Glenwood Springs are sheltered, with benches, trash cans, newspaper stands and in some cases, bike racks.In New Castle, bus stops return to the solitary metal pole design.”I’d like to see a bike rack at this one,” said Gregor Sauer, as he waited for the Grand Hogback bus at 6th and Main Street in New Castle early Wednesday morning. “I have to walk a mile to get to this stop. I could ride my bike if I had some place to lock it up.”Casual observers might think bus stops in unincorporated Garfield County, and in towns such as New Castle, Silt and Rifle, receive low rent bus stops because they are not part of the local taxing entity that comprises the Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA).Not true, says RFTA planning director Mike Davis. “It’s a little bit complicated,” Davis said.Some towns, such as Glenwood Springs, fund RFTA bus stops through advertising.The Carbondale Rotary Club paid for two sheltered stops on Main Street.Outside funding is often required, because a sheltered bus stop with a pullout for buses can easily cost $25,000 each, Davis said.”We don’t have much money in our budget for bus stops,” Davis said.Realizing RFTA’s budgetary constraints, the New Castle Lions Club plans to build a sheltered bus stop near 6th and Main this summer, one at the west end of Main Street this fall, and two more in the years to come.”A lot of our members were saying, “Gee, you see the poor people standing out in the rain and snow,” said New Castle Lions Club Vice-President Scott Parr. “We noticed this need. This project will help the community, and it’s permanent.”There are 208 bus stops between Aspen and Rifle, Davis said, and many of those sprung up after RFTA added the Hogback service between the two towns 14 months ago. In some cases, Hogback route bus stops are not finalized, and are being moved from one location to another.”We hate to put in an expensive stop in place, if it might not be the right location,” Davis said.RFTA is also working with Hogback route towns to explore placing bus stops on town rights of way, and exploring whether advertising can pay for them. “Sometimes, sign codes don’t allow them,” David said.Other times, the companies that pay for bus stops that contain advertising require 20-year commitments, which can be difficult for towns to honor.”So, we have to work with a variety of interests,” Davis said.In the short term, RFTA will build a bus pullout at the Cottonwood Mobile Home Park stop between Rifle and Silt, which will create a graded space and get riders out of the weeds they now stand in.The town of New Castle hopes to extend a sidewalk to the bus stop near the Kum & Go at the east end of Main Street, to get riders out of the mud, said town manager Steve Rippy. In the long term, Rippy said, the town hopes to install lighting at the Kum & Go stop.”But it takes time and money for these improvements to come together,” he said.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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