Bustang to expand service to Steamboat, Craig by 2021
The Colorado Department of Transportation is planning to bring a regional bus service to the Yampa Valley starting in 2021.
Bustang, a state-owned public transportation system, will offer rides between Denver and Craig, with stops in Routt County including Hayden, Milner and Steamboat Springs.
Initially, rides would be available five days per week on weekdays, according to CDOT. Weekend service could become available depending on demand. Prices would vary depending on the length of the trip. Service from Craig to the Denver Bus Center would cost $34. Service from Craig to Hayden would cost $3.
Three additional new routes would offer service between Sterling and Greeley, Telluride and Grand Junction and between Trinidad and Pueblo.
This comes after more than a year of preparations to expand the bus service to more rural areas along Bustang’s outrider routes. The goals are to offer reduced fares, more consistent schedules, convenient connections and reliable service between rural and urban areas, according to Julie Skeen, a consultant with Communication Infrastructure Group working for CDOT.
She unveiled the plans during a Routt County Board of Commissioners work session Monday.
“We are trying to develop a connected system,” Skeen said. “In the past, we have seen some really fragmented service where one bus stop ends, and there’s no way to transition to something else.”
The expected start date for the new service is early 2021, according to Skeen. The COVID-19 pandemic could cause delays, she cautioned.
CDOT is still in the process of gathering feedback from stakeholders and the public about the new routes, hence the meeting with the Routt County commissioners.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan said he supports the expansion but encouraged CDOT officials to add Bustang service in South Routt, the area he represents.
“It would be a huge benefit to the folks who live in the towns of Oak Creek and Yampa,” he said.
Commissioner Beth Melton agreed with Corrigan, adding South Routt has a high percentage of lower-income residents who would benefit from the bus service. She proposed changing the route between Steamboat and Kremmling, so that instead of going over Rabbit Ears Pass, buses traveled through South Routt and then over Gore Pass to get to Kremmling.
Commissioner Doug Monger voiced concern about creating too much competition with Greyhound, which currently offers rides along the same route to Denver. Offering service to South Routt would create more diverse options for passengers.
CDOT Bus Operations Coordinator Jeffrey Prillwitz said officials are open to altering the routes, but so far, evaluations have shown the Rabbit Ears Pass route to be the most effective.
“For us, it’s what is workable,” Prillwitz said of the current routes.
To collect feedback from the public, CDOT plans to release a survey in the near future. By the winter, CDOT plans to announce the finalized bus stop locations and schedule for the new service.
The new service will be paid for using federal and state funds, Skeen said. Each year, the Federal Transportation Administration gives CDOT approximately $1.8 million, 15% of which must go to intercity bus service systems. Funding also comes from the Colorado FASTER Act, which generates about $200 million every year for state transportation projects through vehicle registration fees.
Bustang started operating in 2015 with routes from Denver to Glenwood Springs, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. In 2018, it introduced its outrider service to rural areas. Bustang currently operates four routes along its outrider service, including between Gunnison and Denver; Alamosa and Pueblo; Lamar and Colorado Springs; and between Durango and Grand Junction.
Officials have implemented several precautions to keep passengers and bus drivers safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- All buses will undergo daily enhanced cleaning and sanitizing
- Selected seats onboard will be physically blocked to ensure proper social distancing
- Drivers will be issued proper personal protective equipment
- Each bus will be supplied with face masks, latex gloves and personal hand sanitizers
- Riders will be offered free hand sanitizer wipes while boarding the bus
- Face masks are required for drivers and passengers
To book a trip with Bustang, visit ridebustang.com.
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