CDOT’s new bus system links Eagle County commuters to Denver
SUMMIT COUNTY — Starting in July, Eagle County locals can look forward to a new way of traveling to Denver, no car required.
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s new express bus service, Bustang, will link transit centers stretching from Glenwood Springs to Denver’s Union Station. The three routes link the I-70 mountain corridor to I-25 both northbound and southbound, with destinations in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. One bus will run each weekday along I-70.
“The goal of the system itself is to meet the needs of the community and the clear need in connecting state’s transit systems, while offsetting traffic in the two most congested corridors in the state,” said CDOT communications director Amy Ford.
The buses, scheduled specifically for weekday commuters, are slated to depart from Glenwood Springs each morning around 7 a.m., and return by 10 p.m. For example, an Eagle County resident with a meeting in Denver could leave Vail just before 8:30 a.m., and catch a bus back from Union Station at 6:15 p.m.
Ticket prices are inexpensive, with a one-way from Vail to Denver coming in at $17. Eagle to Denver is $22. Or, commuters could catch a ride from Vail to Frisco for just $5. Tickets can also be purchased in packs of 10, 20 or 40 for each route, with a 25 percent discount for walk-up rates for handicapped residents and seniors.
“It’s really designed more for locals at this point,” Ford said. “You could take the bus down if you had a doctor’s appointment in Denver. Or, maybe you wanted to go to a show.”
Of course, with a stop at Union Station, Bustang connects travelers to Denver’s light rail, giving both locals and tourists better access to the airport.
Each bus comes equipped with restrooms, bike racks, WiFi, power outlets and USB ports. The buses, which are handicap accessible, are capable of carrying up to 50 people. Ford said she expects to see 35 to 40 people using the bus at once.
CDOT is spending $10 million to start the program, with a cost of $3 million for operations. To cover the cost, CDOT will use funds set aside after a bill passed in 2009, slightly raising the cost of vehicle registration.
The Bustang will start running Monday, July 13, with a three- to five-year evaluation period to assess its effectiveness. If it is a success, CDOT may look at expanding the route west to Grand Junction.
“We will definitely be looking at this in the future,” Ford said. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”