EAGLE COUNTY – ECO Transit will start its new service with its winter schedule, which goes into effect Nov. 24.
“We will have more frequency and more capacity with fewer buses — in essence we are doing more with less,” said ECO Transit Director Kelley Collier. “Our aim has been to make service times more reliable and competitive with private vehicles.”
There are also new bus passes available, and some old routes such as the Vail-Beaver Creek Express, are being reinstituted since their hiatus in 2009.
It’s all centered around the Valley Express service, which will become hourly. That route serves single stops in Eagle, Edwards, Avon and Vail.
More riders expected
“It varied a lot before, sometimes there would be 90 minutes or two hours between buses,” Collier said. “By making it more reliable, we anticipate ridership to increase.”
A future goal is to implement half-hour service for the Valley Express.
To make the route more timely and reliable, the Valley Express has minimal stops at key hubs. Other buses circulating within those communities then serve those hubs. The western circulator between Eagle and Gypsum is a major key, allowing Gypsum riders access to the Valley Express.
Collier said the Valley Express is mostly the same as it has been, but the schedule has been tweaked to accommodate the western circulator.
Other new routes include a skier shuttle that is being reinstituted.
The Elk Lot in Avon is being added to eliminate a transfer, and ECO has an opportunity to use the new Swift Gulch facility as a hub in Beaver Creek.
Some areas don’t have circulators, which is something that will be considered in the future.
“We would have to figure out a partnership for funding on town circulators beyond current core service,” Collier said.
Meanwhile, some stops are being consolidated. An example is a stop on Jules Drive in Gypsum, where there had been two before.
“We’re trying to get stops out of residential areas,” Collier said.
ECO is keeping fares the same — $4 — for the normal routes such as the Valley Express. Some routes, such as the Vail-Beaver Creek Express, will have a premium fare of $7. The $1 transfer fee is being eliminated.
Existing passes: The senior, youth and para-transit annual passes will become photo passes. The senior and youth passes cost $25, and para-transit is free.
The new passes include:
Employer passes with monthly tracking — $1.50 per regular ride, $3 per premium ride (an additional 4 percent discount) with a maximum of $85 and $170 per month respectively, which is the rate of discounted monthly passes.
Winter season — $350 regular, $700 premium (a 13 percent discount).
Six-month — $500 regular, $1,000 premium (a 17 percent discount).
Annual — $900 regular, $1,800 premium (a 25 percent discount).
Collier said ECO is anticipating $150,000 in increased revenue from the increased frequency and capacity and the new routes.
“And that is a conservative estimate,” she said.
The new plan is scheduled to come before the Eagle County commissioners for final approval either on Oct. 29 or Nov. 12, at which time citizens are invited to voice their questions and concerns.
“I don’t think there will be any objections because all the fare changes are positive for passengers,” Collier said. “It’s an ‘ah ha!’ moment because everything we’ve had on paper for years is actually going to work.”
“I don’t think there will be any objections because all the fare changes are positive for passengers.”
Director, ECO Transit