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Publish Date: 9/3/2005

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University of Colorado co-workers and Longmont residents Lesley McDowell, left, and Barbara DeNeeve share a laugh as they ride the Bolt bus to Boulder on Friday morning. McDowell gave up her parking pass two weeks ago and started riding the bus to work to save gas. Times-Call/Erin McCracken

Boltin’ for the bus
Gas prices push RTD ridership up locally


LONGMONT — Until a few weeks ago, Bobby McEwen didn’t use the bus to commute between his home in Longmont and his job in Boulder.

But with gas prices climbing in recent months — and now approaching the $3 mark — many Longmont residents are giving the year-old Bolt line a try, according to ridership statistics.

“It’s cheaper to ride the bus,” McEwen said after climbing off the Bolt on the 600 block of Main Street on Friday. “And I don’t like to walk.”

The Bolt, the bus line linking Longmont with Boulder, saw a 28 percent increase in ridership between May 2004 and May 2005, according to statistics from Boulder County alternative transportation coordinator Tim Swope. About 1,000 people a day rode the line in May, he said.

Regional Transportation District officials scrapped the former M line between Longmont and Boulder and created the Bolt in September 2004, in part to accommodate students at the Front Range Community College Longmont campus.

Bolt buses also cater to commuters, making stops at Niwot, the IBM campus and Gunbarrel.

“It hasn’t been hard to find a seat, but they have definitely been filling up,” Longmont resident Regina Sediva, who works at King Soopers in Gunbarrel, said as she was waiting for the Bolt on Friday morning.

District-wide, ridership increases have not been able to offset the rising gas costs for the Regional Transportation District, RTD spokesman Scott Reed said.

RTD ridership in the Denver area was up about 3 percent in July, but diesel prices have nearly doubled in the past year, Reed said. Almost every bus in RTD’s fleet runs on diesel, he said.

“In 2004, we averaged $1.11 per gallon of diesel. We’ve almost doubled that,” Reed said. “We are at the highest level for our diesel fuel prices in the 30-year history of RTD.”

Planners at RTD are budgeting for 2006 under the assumption that diesel will cost $2.22 a gallon, he said.

In October, RTD’s board will consider hiking local fares from $1.25 to $1.50 to cover fuel costs, Reed said.

Regional lines like the Bolt would not be affected by the possible rate change, he said.

Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420, or by e-mail at bturner@times-call.com.

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