by Bob Brewster
Congratulations to CDOT’s Transit and Rail Division for its 50% Bustang ridership increase from fiscal year #1 to #2! Transit and Rail leaders are no strangers to ColoRail – they’ve made numerous presentations at our meetings – and ColoRail values their enthusiasm in expanding Bustang routes statewide, filling a void that has existed for far too many years. For example, a 40-year span between the last Colorado Motorway bus that left Ft. Collins for Denver and the first Bustang bus to do the same!
The three routes connect Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, and Glenwood Springs with Denver Union Station, with some intermediate stops. Service to Broncos games commenced last season and the North and South routes have joined the West route with weekend service. Visit www.ridebustang.com for full fares, schedules and route details.
Naturally, ColoRail has a bus wish list as well as a train wish list. And we have it on good authority that the Bustang team concurs with many of the items on it! While ColoRail views some Bustang routes as paving the way and creating a market for future rail services, many are warranted as standalone routes serving particular markets. Bustang routes could also extend the reach of rail routes where tracks don’t go.
ColoRail recommends that Bustang take over operation of Amtrak’s Thruway Bus to Raton, NM, as well as launch a new Thruway route to La Junta, via Pueblo, possibly as a precursor to the speculative “Thru cars” off Amtrak’s Southwest Chief between La Junta and Pueblo. Maybe even service to Cheyenne, connecting with the California Zephyr? Intermediate stops will bolster the demand.
Services to Alamosa, Durango, Trinidad, and Grand Junction are very worthy considerations. Our state and its residents and visitors desperately need alternatives to driving. And the need is now, not later! It is not unreasonable to suggest hourly service all day and evening along the I-25 routes, with peak hour expresses. Attractive fares would no doubt fill those buses, perhaps with some bus-on-shoulder advantages.
Please request greatly expanded funding for Bustang and rail services in Colorado from your local, state, and federal representatives. Colorado needs transportation choices and we have much catching up to do. Our booming economy deserves and demands no less!