What is the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has been in operation since 1983, and functions as a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). The RTA includes the communities of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Pitkin County, Basalt, and a portion of Eagle County, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and the newest member New Castle. RFTA provides commuter bus service from Aspen to Glenwood Springs (Roaring Fork Valley), Glenwood to Rifle (Hogback), intra city service in Aspen and Glenwood Springs, ski shuttle service to the four Aspen Skiing Company ski areas, the Maroon Bells Shuttles, and a variety of other seasonal services.
In November 2000, The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority was created by voters in seven jurisdictions within the Roaring Fork Valley. Its predecessor, the Roaring Fork Transit Agency, was created in 1993 by means of an Intergovernmental Agreement between the City of Aspen and Pitkin County, who merged their separate transit systems in order to achieve economies of scale.
In 2001 the Roaring Fork Railroad Holding Authority (RFRHA) was merged into RFTA. RFRHA was created in 1993 by the same constituent governments as RFTA, in order to acquire 34 miles of the Rio Grande Railroad corridor in the Roaring Fork Valley, which it purchased in 1997. The corridor was assumed by RFTA, which is preserving it for a future mass transit system and, in the interim, is using it for a recreational trail. In 2002, the Roaring Fork Transit Agency was also merged into RFTA along with its employees and equipment.
Initial members included the communities of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Pitkin County, Basalt, a portion of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs. In 2005, residents of the Town of New Castle voted to join RFTA. RFTA is primarily funded by dedicated sales taxes levied in each of its member that were approved by voters.
RFTA has received numerous awards, including the “Best Mass Transit System of North America” by Mass Transit Magazine and the best “Large Transit Agency of the Year” from Colorado Association of Transit Agencies. In 2012, RFTA received the White House Champions of Change Transportation Innovator Award. In 2014, RFTA received the Federal Transit Administrator’s Outstanding Public Service Award and a SHIFT Sustainability Award.
RFTA is the second largest transit system in Colorado, the largest rural transit system in the U.S., and the first rural transit agency to construct and operate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. VelociRFTA BRT began operation in September 2013. In 2014, in its first full year of operation, VelociRFTA transported 827,000 passengers.
In 2016, RFTA started assessing regional transit/transportation needs via the Integrated Transportation System Plan (ITSP) and Upper Valley Mobility Study (UVMS). In 2018, the ITSP planning process catalyzed a new public-friendly regional improvements package, branded as Destination 2040. The RFTA Board and Staff, equipped with targeted polling and survey data, agreed to refer a 2.65 mill levy property tax question to regional voters in RFTA’s eight member jurisdictions. On November 2, 2018, eligible voters approved Ballot Question 7A with 11,364 votes in favor and 10,362 votes against; an approval margin of 52 to 48 percent. The additional property tax revenue will help RFTA maintain and improve its services, infrastructure, and equipment, while reducing its reliance on inadequate and uncertain State and Federal grants.
2022 RFTA STATISTICS (estimated)
- 4.2 million system-wide passenger trips
- 5.8 million miles (est.) operated
- 380+ employees during peak winter season
- A diverse fleet of approximately 100 revenue buses, including clean diesel, compressed natural gas (CNG) and near-zero emission battery electric buses (BEB). RFTA also maintains a 20% fleet spare ratio, as recommended by Federal Transit Administration
- $78 million total FY22 budget: $53.6 million Operating Budget, $18.3 million Capital Budget, $6.1 million Debt Service
- Approximately $18 million in Federal/State/Local Capital grants and $1.3 million in Federal/State Operating grants
- 70-mile service region: Aspen to Glenwood Springs (40 miles) and Glenwood Springs to Rifle (30 miles)
- 9 major BRT Stations from Aspen to Glenwood, 14 park and rides and 160 total bus stops served
- Maintenance facilities and administrative offices located in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Rifle
- RFTA owns and co-manages 34 miles of the Rio Grande Railroad Corridor/Rio Grande Trail, which sees upwards of 75,000 non-motorized users at certain locations in the Roaring Fork Valley
- In 2022, RFTA Staff completed Phase 2 of the Glenwood Springs Maintenance Facility (GMF)/Regional Transit Center (RTC), and embarked on both a Climate Action Plan (CAP) and a Zero Emission Bus (ZEB) Transition Plan.
RFTA provides the following transit services:
- VelociRFTA Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service along the 42-mile SH 82 corridor from Glenwood Springs to Aspen
- Express and Local regional commuter service along the SH 82 Corridor from Aspen to the Town of Snowmass Village (via Brush Creek Rd.), and from Aspen to Glenwood Springs
- No-fare service between Aspen and Snowmass Village, partially subsidized by the Elected Officials Transportation Committee (EOTC)
- Grand Hogback Route commuter service between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, along the I-70 and SH 6 corridors
- Municipal transit services under annual service contracts with the City of Aspen and the City of Glenwood Springs
- Public skier shuttle services under contract with Aspen Skiing Company
- Senior/paratransit transportation services under contract with Garfield County Senior Van/Traveler, and the Senior Van for Pitkin County
- Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area bus tours in partnership with the US Forest Service
- Coordinated first-last mile commuting options with WE-cycle public bicycle share services
RFTA’s Board Membership is comprised of representatives of our membership communities. They hold public meetings monthly. For information on who our board member communities are, visit the Board Meetings page.
View RFTA’s Mission statement and what our key priorities are on the Our Mission page.
The Strategic Plan identifies key strategies and detailed initiatives for implementation. View the Strategic Plan.