Planning for an improved Snowmass Village Mall Transit Center, to accommodate RFTA buses and the Village Shuttle at the same location, is shifting into first gear.
While concepts discussed during a Wednesday meeting with transit stakeholders were termed “very preliminary” by Snowmass Village Transportation Director David Peckler, and so new that they have yet to be shared with the town council, there’s optimism a plan might receive enough traction by April to allow for some kind of a public meeting.
“We’re trying to come up with a more simple, straightforward design that will address combining Village Shuttles with RFTA service on one level” of the mall, Peckler said.
One concept involves building a deck over parking Lot 6 to accommodate the facility; some of the short-term parking spaces would be retained. There’s a goal to design and build the project within a $7 million budget.
Dan Blankenship, CEO for RFTA, said the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, which is comprised of members from Aspen City Council, Snowmass Village Town Council and Pitkin County Commissioners, has approximately $6 million set aside for a new TOSV transit center. EOTC funds come from the half-cent sales and use tax that has been collected by Pitkin County since 1993.
There’s also a $500,000 contribution to a future Snowmass Mall Transit Center Project included in RFTA’s Destination 2040 plan, which was approved by voters in November, Blankenship said.
Improving the functionality of this transit stop has been talked about for over two decades, according to Peckler.
This week’s meeting involved TOSV staff, Dwayne Romero, representing the Snowmass Mall, and a representative from the SEH engineering and planning firm out of Denver.
Town spokesman Travis Elliott confirmed on Thursday, “We have hired a firm to do some conceptual analyses on what could physically fit in the site and within our budget constraints. We are at a super preliminary phase, and just getting started.”
Increased ridership and pressure on RFTA regional service is one of the reasons a new mall transit facility is rising to the forefront at this time.
“Local trips are occupying seats that regional riders need,” Peckler said. He used as one example people who board the RFTA “skier shuttle,” which is intended for longer hauls, but then get off at a Snowmass Village bus stop.
“It hits the regional service in two ways. Number one, it occupies a seat. And every stop slows down that regional trip,” Peckler said.
He emphasized that this week’s stakeholders’ meeting focused on, “Can we do this and make it work with the budget we have?” and not about “What does it look like?”