As Snowstang heads into its seventh weekend, the buses’ success has outpaced expectations and leaves many of its stakeholders optimistic for the future. Average occupancy for buses on the different routes range from 30% full for the longer Steamboat trip to nearly 50% full for the Loveland and Arapahoe Basin services. Early goals for the service were to achieve 20% occupancy for the Steamboat bus and 35% occupancy for the other two. According to CDOT Bus Unit Manager, Mike Timlin, “We knew it would take some time to grow but are impressed with the popularity of the service so far.”

Something we have celebrated frequently is the participation of private ski resort partners in this great service. Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Ski Area, Steamboat Resort (and the City of Steamboat) contributed about two thirds of the estimated $190,000 it will cost to operate Snowstang’s three buses for 19 weekends and nearly 40 days this winter. In covering costs of the remaining expenditure, CDOT was hoping to make up the difference in ticket sales. We are proud to report that ticket sales and financial performance have exceeded expectations too! “The cooperative funding by Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Ski Area, Steamboat Resort and the Town of Steamboat means the no-net-cost to taxpayer goal is also being met,” said David Krutsinger, CDOT Director of Transit and Rail. “This is a remarkable achievement.”

Additionally, Snowstang operation has come with several pleasant surprises. In just the first month of service, a new unexpected market of bus users has emerged. Through surveying it’s been revealed that about 40% of riders so far have either been international or out of state, some of which have never seen snow and participated in snow sports – let alone driven in the winter conditions that can sometimes be found on I-70. Another very interesting thing happened, one that we did not predict: While the first weekend was rocky and involved a lengthy weather-related delay, passengers were surprisingly happy, forgiving, and relaxed – reporting that they much preferred being delayed on the comfort of a bus with the camaraderie of other passengers, than white knuckling in the driver’s seat of their own car on the slippery highway.

According to CDOT, Snowstang saved 1,868 pound of CO2 during the first 6 weekends of operation. “We are trying to make a change in behavior by providing another option,” CDOT Spokesman Bob Wilson said “And if the price is right, and people are seriously using that option, we are going to get more vehicles off the road. Gov. Polis was very clear about that: This is about sustainability and this service plays a role in that.” Snowstang ridership continues to gain steam and we encourage all frequent I-70 travelers to try it at least once. This year is an experimental pilot and we need YOUR PARTICIPATION to ensure that this program, its expansion and its aim to reduce corridor emissions and traffic, continues (and amplifies!) with CDOT and ski resort support next year and for many years to come.




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