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Private passenger vehicles and a bus pass through the arrivals area at Denver International Airport on Monday, near the commercial taxi and shuttle stand. After nine months without ground transportation service between Aspen and DIA, a company will launch on Friday. 

There’s a new shuttle in town.

After travelers suffered through last winter without scheduled ground transportation service between the upper Roaring Fork Valley and Denver International Airport, a new operator plans to start Friday and ramp up services for the 2022-23 ski season.

Roaring Fork Express will launch commercial operations between Aspen and DIA and Eagle County Airport, as well as wedding and event service.

Roaring Fork Express is part of CO West Transportation, which has vast experience in the mountain transport business since 1985. Various entities under its umbrella serve Steamboat Springs, Eagle, Grand Junction, Montrose, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Telluride, Cortez and Durango.

Company owner and CEO Landon Ogilvie said expanding into the Aspen market was a natural fit for the firm, and he is confident the service will be successful.

“I always had my eye on Aspen,” he said. “We know what we’re doing. We're the biggest in the state.”

Scheduled ground transpiration is a critical piece of the hospitality puzzle for mountain resorts, said Bill Tomcich, a consultant to Fly Aspen Snowmass. Some travelers, including international guests, want to take ground transportation from DIA to Aspen to see additional parts of the state. Others, such as those on low-fare airlines that travel to Denver instead of directly to Aspen, book the service for the final leg. And, of course, there are travelers who are stranded when flights cannot operate in Aspen because of weather. They still want to hit the slopes or catch their flight in Denver.

“The need for this service became readily apparent during last winter’s snowy Christmas holiday,” Tomcich said in a statement. “Replacing scheduled ground transportation into Aspen-Snowmass became a very high priority, and we are excited to welcome Roaring Fork Express as an organization that is both qualified and experienced in providing these vital services.”

The prior ground transportation provider, Epic Mountain Express, pulled out from the Aspen market in October. That left no time for another operator to step up before the busy winter season. Epic was operated by Aspen’s competitor, Vail Resorts. Epic Mountain Express was formerly known as Colorado Mountain Express, which operated in Aspen for several years.

 Aspen Skiing Co. has embraced Roaring Fork Express as a partner, according to a joint statement.

“There are no financial commitments there,” Ogilvie said in an interview.

Roaring Fork Express will offer both scheduled service on mini-buses and coaches, depending on the number of reservations, and shared rides on 15-passenger Ford Transits.

Ogilvie said he is optimistic that Roaring Fork Express will find enough employees thanks to its structure: The company offers remote commercial drivers license and drivers’ training services from Montrose and provides jobs for the graduates. Drivers can be shifted among markets as needed, he said.

The rate this summer for shared-ride, door-to-door service is $130 for adults and children between Aspen and DIA and $80 between Aspen and Eagle County Airport.

Shuttle and wedding/event services can be booked now at 970-486-3002 or 800-822-4844, or at roaringforkexpress.com.

The new company will start Friday with a scaled offering of scheduled routes and limited on-demand service. It will expand service in winter and release its schedule once the airlines announce their schedules.