RFTA COO, Todd Horsley and CEO, Dan Blankenship holding the ribbon for the launch of VelociRFTA this past August.
The following is a note from RFTA CEO, Dan Blankenship.
Nearly a quarter of a century working for RFTA gives me a perspective that others might not have. Some people look at RFTA and see its deficiencies but, when I look back over the years, I see a lot of progress.
In 1989, RFTA had about 100 employees and 35 buses. This winter, we had nearly 300 employees on the payroll and 120 vehicles in the fleet. In 1989, we transported about 1.8 million passengers and, this year, we transported that many passengers by April 15th. In 2014, RFTA should provide nearly 2.5 million rides on its Valley commuter services, surpassing its 2008 all-time record of 2.24 million.
In 1989, RFTA had one facility in Aspen and we turned the buses around in El Jebel. Now, we also have facilities in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and our services extend from Aspen to Rifle. Back then, there wasn’t a four-lane highway between Carbondale and Aspen and there weren’t many traffic signals that allowed people to cross the highway safely, or any pedestrian underpasses.
Back then, we didn’t have exclusive bus lanes, bus pull-offs, bus shelters, attractive BRT stations, or park & rides facilities. We didn’t have digital radios or an automated vehicle location system. We didn’t have an automated scheduling system, automated announcements, automated passenger counting, real-time passenger information, an electronic fare payment system, ticket vending machines, an electronic asset maintenance system, an automated fueling system, Wi-Fi on buses, a Compressed Natural Gas fueling facility, or an energy-efficient Aspen maintenance facility heated by waste oil and geothermal technology. Back then, we also didn’t have Fast, Fun, and Frequent, VelociRFTA BRT service, which is proving to be very popular with most riders.
Sometimes the pace of change seems overwhelming and, when the road gets bumpy, it’s easy to become nostalgic. Yet, from where I sit, things are a lot better now than they were back then. RFTA depends upon the public for its support, and it doesn’t have the luxury of remaining the same. We must continually strive to improve in order to meet the needs of the people we serve, in terms of safety, comfort, cost, quality, and convenience.
The next 25 years may not be easy, yet with its dedicated and capable staff, and the support of the public, I am confident that RFTA will never fail to rise to the challenges it faces on its never-ending quest to becoming the best transit systems anywhere!
Dan Blankenship, Chief Executive Officer, RFTA