Contact: Angela Gates
CARBONDALE, Colo. — Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff joined Colorado officials and hundreds of local residents today to kick off construction of the nation’s first bus rapid transit system serving rural America. The new bus service will enable thousands of workers from rural Colorado to save hundreds of dollars on gas each month and drastically reduce the number of hours they spend driving. The buses will run on home-grown clean fuel that will reduce air pollution and help preserve the natural beauty of the rural Western Rocky Mountains.
“President Obama is advocating an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the United States, which includes building projects like the Roaring Fork Valley’s rapid bus service,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This investment in Colorado’s transportation infrastructure is also an investment in a more secure energy future for the United States, so we can reduce our dependence on oil — and reduce the emissions polluting our air.”
The new bus rapid transit, or BRT, will operate along a 40-mile corridor between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, serving outlying communities where housing is more affordable than in the region’s resort towns, where most major employers are based. The BRT line’s 18 new buses will run on compressed natural gas produced in Colorado.
“This is going to make a huge difference in the quality of life for thousands of middle-class families who need affordable transportation choices that work for them,” Administrator Rogoff said. “For many riders, the benefits of this investment are significant, with commute times cut in half and families saving roughly $500 a month on gas—enough to feed a family of four for a month.”
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will operate the BRT service, called VelociRFTA, which will connect workers who live in Roaring Fork Valley to local area resorts where the jobs are, roughly 40 miles away. The new service includes construction of nine bus stations and five park-and-ride facilities, priority travel lanes that keep buses moving through downtown traffic lights, electronic signs at stations to let riders know when the next bus will arrive, onboard Wi-Fi service and enclosed bus shelters to protect passengers from rain and snow.
FTA has committed nearly $25 million, approximately 54 percent of the total $46.1 million project cost, through its Small Starts capital program in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. The remaining cost is being covered by local funding sources.