Attention all those who have pounded the steering wheel while stuck in dreaded Interstate 70 ski traffic: Here comes the bus.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is expanding its Bustang regional bus network with service from Denver to at least two ski areas beginning in December. Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are already on board, and Copper Mountain has expressed “strong interest,” according to Bustang Operations Manager Mike Timlin.
Bustang also will begin running buses from Denver to Estes Park in August. That line will connect to Rocky Mountain National Park’s hiker shuttle.
Round trip fares to Estes Park, believe or not, will be only $10. The ski service will cost $25 round-trip.
Bustang, a four-year-old CDOT program that uses money from vehicle registration fees to subsidize what fare revenue doesn’t cover, already runs regional buses from Denver to Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Vail, Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.
The Estes Park service will originate at Denver Union Station with a stop at RTD’s Park and Ride station on US 36 at Sheridan Boulevard, where there is a large parking facility. The ski service, called Snowstang, will originate at Union Station with a stop at RTD’s Federal Center Station in Lakewood. Multiple light rail routes serve Union Station, and the W light rail line stops at Federal Center station.
The Estes Park service will begin Aug. 24. That noise you just heard was a collective sigh of relief from all of the drivers who have been stuck in mile-long backups while trying to enter the park.
Snowstang will operate on 40 dates from December to April, including weekends, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, the Martin Luther King holiday and President’s Day. Bustang is talking to other ski areas about joining the effort, which would involve helping to pay for it.
“We’re hoping by next week we can get more commitments,” Timlin said. “They would be a contributing party to the service so the taxpayers aren’t footing the subsidy of the service. We would guarantee 40 percent of the operation and maintenance costs through fare revenue. They would contribute 60 percent.”
RTD already serves the Eldora Mountain ski area.