107 Officials: Bustang Is a Success. Now Give Us More Service

Danny Katz of CoPRIG presents a giant card celebrating the success of Bustang to state transportation commissioners Thursday. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Danny Katz of CoPRIG presents a giant card celebrating the success of Bustang to state transportation commissioners Thursday. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Bustang officials celebrated a sharp rise in ridership that bucks a national trend — and the service’s fourth anniversary achievement was marked with a giant birthday card signed by officials from 107 Colorado cities and towns whose constituents are taking advantage of the expanding service.

“If you look back to the first year of 100,000 riders, you’re up to 238,000 riders,” said Danny Katz, director of CoPRIG, who presented the card to state transportation commissioners at their monthly meeting at the Colorado Department of Transportation headquarters on Thursday morning. “That’s a 133 percent increase.” 

Bill Thiebaut, chairman of the state Transportation Commission and Shoshana Lew, CDOT executive director, accept a birthday card from Danny Katz of CoPRIG. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Bill Thiebaut, chairman of the state Transportation Commission and Shoshana Lew, CDOT executive director, accept a birthday card from Danny Katz of CoPRIG. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Bustang started as a regional express bus service between major cities in Colorado in July of 2015. This year, it created Bustang Outrider service to reach some of the state’s rural areas. The 107 signatories to the card included 30 mayors and other elected officials from the cities and towns served by Bustang. They urged the commissioners to continue expanding the service because more frequent buses and an increase in the number of destinations served has been a key to its surging ridership. 

“This is a service that people wanted. The buses are packed. And you’ve been expanding it every single year,” said Katz. “Keep your foot on the gas and keep expanding that service.” 

Katz also told the commissioners that Bustang is helping to reduce car dependency and traffic, especially along the congested Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 corridors. 

“It’s an important part of giving people the freedom to be able to travel without necessarily driving a car around the state,” he said. “It’s an important part of quality of life here in Colorado.” 

Bustang Year-Over-Year Ridership

The growing bustang ridership is a counterpoint to a national trend of declining bus ridership, including at the Regional Transportation District where the number of bus rides declined 6.8 percent between 2014 and 2018. Light rail ridership dropped 13.7 percent just this year, according to RTD.  

Bustang recently filled all of its bus driver positions, but its expansion was scaled back last winter due to a shortage of operators


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  • TakeFive

    A year and one month ago I rode the mid-afternoon Bustang from DUS up to the Frisco Station where I jumped on the free Summit Stage shuttle to Silverthorne Transit Center which was two blocks from the hotel where I stayed for a few days. The bus was about two-thirds full. It was a delightful way to view the Rockies along I-70. On the return trip I caught the earlier 6:30 a.m. Bustang which was about half full.

    • iBikeCommute

      Last winter my family took the bus from frisco to Denver. With a full bus and no reserved seats, a handful of people were stranded in frisco with no way to get home. Seemed like a poorly run operation that seriously needs to be upgraded and expanded.

      • TakeFive

        Sounds like it. I know they tried direct to ski areas but those trips proved to be too price sensitive. I just searched “Bustang Denver” and 1st suggestion was “Denver – Frisco” which tells me what is most popular. Schedule was revised in May presumably for summer.

        Good guess that in winter they need a route specifically between Denver and Frisco and perhaps another route between Denver, Frisco, Copper and Vail which would be by reservation. Maybe the Vail route could be weekends only.

      • George Joseph Lane

        If the buses are full then it is a *well* run operation that seriously needs to be upgraded and expanded.

      • TakeFive

        Loveland and A-Basin to get SnowStang bus service this winter. Copper considering it. https://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2019/07/25/cdot-snowstang-bus-service-2019.html?iana=hpmvp_den_news_headline

        • iBikeCommute

          I’m intrigued but the reason it failed last time was ticket prices were too high. Does it say how much tickets will cost?

          • TakeFive

            No, but the ski areas are required to pick up 60% of the cost so presumably that should keep fares reasonable. I’d also assume that Summit County feels no need to do this given their Stage Summit so that’s a different hill to climb.

  • Karen E Bencke

    I also ride the Bustang up to Summit County, this summer though, and it combined with the Summit Stage made for a fabulous, carless vacation. It was both easy and affordable. I wish other areas of the country had a similar, easy way to get out of town without a car.

  • TM

    Since it looks like they are going to add another express lane on I-70 going west, they better get the buses running in it so they can bypass traffic.
    The bus to ski area routes would get very popular if they could skip past the morning traffic.

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