April 16, 2012

Colo. breaks ground on first rural U.S. BRT system

Aspen, Colo.-based Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) began construction of the nation’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) 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.

The system 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.

RFTA 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.

The Federal Transit Administration has committed nearly $25 million, approximately 54% 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.

For additional reporting from kjct8.com on the groundbreaking, click here.

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