Bustang a hit with riders on I-70 between Denver and Glenwood
DENVER — Since its debut in July, the “Bustang” service on three Colorado highway segments—especially I-70—has exceeded expectations.
The Colorado Department of Transportation had set a goal of recovering 20something percent of operations in the first year of operations, growing to 40 percent of operations by the sixth year.
For November, the I-70 route was up to 62 percent farebox recovery. The route from Denver north to Fort Collins has also done well, but not quite as well, and the route between Denver and Colorado Springs has come in third.
The 50-passenger buses have restrooms, free WiFi, power outlets, and bicycle racks.
Ridership has been so high that C-DOT in November added weekend trips for I-70, in addition to the Monday-Friday schedule that had been introduced in July.
The buses leave Glenwood Springs at shortly after 7 a.m., arriving at Denver’s Union Station shortly after 11 a.m. The reverse trip, starting at 5:40 p.m. at Union Station, is quicker.
Buses do not stop in Clear Creek County, because there is no public transit there. Instead, the stops are in Frisco, Vail, and Eagle.
C-DOT intends to expand the program. State transportation commissioners have authorized purchase of three more buses. Amy Ford, spokeswoman for C-DOT, says the routes could be expanded westward to Grand Junction and south to Pueblo.
More rural areas off the interstates could also get service in future years. Steamboat is one such place with potential to be serviced by Bustang routes.
Still in play is how the opening of the commuter rail from Denver’s Union Station to DIA may induce increased use of Bustang. Already, some people have used Bustang to get to Denver. When the train service begins next April, travelers from Frisco, for example, will be able to leave the bus at Union Station, walk a few feet, and grab a train to DIA.