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Colorado’s Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Brings Urban Efficiency to Small Towns

July 31, 2014
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Colorado’s Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Brings Urban Efficiency to Small Towns
Andrew Catellier/Flickr Creative Commons
The Rocky Mountain state provides public transit to all its residents — even those in rural areas.

For most of us, Colorado is a staple of rural America with its mountains, crystal lakes and small communities. While getting around many towns can be managed with two feet, usually four wheels and a motor are needed for travel to most places in the state.

But with the introduction of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus line, Colorado is busting the myth that good public transportation is only found in urban areas.

Why is it so great? RFTA acts like a commuter rail station but for suburbia — running 41 miles along Route 82 and the Roaring Fork River, connecting the towns between Aspen and Carbondale. And while it may not boast the huge numbers of users that more populated areas are accustomed to, it’s by no means lacking. In 2013, RFTA gave 4.1 million rides to the 32,000 residents in the area, a four percent increase from 2012.

Even better, users don’t have to wait too long or walk too far as all stops are walking distance from any downtown. Plus, the buses run frequently. Bikers are welcome as well, as most buses have a bike rack on the front, and at some stops, your two wheels can even be taken onto the bus.

In many urban areas, those who can afford to avoid public transportation do, but the Colorado bus line appeals to locals and tourists alike, regardless of their budget.

Even though it can be a little confusing for outsiders, the benefits outweigh the bad. For visitors, RFTA can save them the $100 per day that it costs to rent a car. The tradeoff, however, is dealing with the abbreviated names of the stops and learning that the bus will not stop if there isn’t anyone waiting or if no one rings the bell to get off.

While it may not be as advanced as its urban counterparts, the RFTA is busing change to the Midwest — which means that it’s only a matter of time before other rural areas hop on the public transportation revolution.

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