The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) has announced that it will begin service on its trial RTD (“Blue Bus”) Mountain Trail route, Saturday, Sept. 26, departing at 10:30 a.m. from the South Capitol Rail Runner Station.
The Mountain Trail route will provide service from the South Capitol Rail Runner Station, through Downtown to Fort Marcy Park and then up Hyde Park Road to recreational areas and businesses along NM 475 concluding at Ski Santa Fe. Free park and ride options for local residents will be available at the South Capitol station and on the north side of Fort Marcy Park in two parking lots north and south of the bus stop located on Murales between Old Taos Highway and Bishop’s Lodge Road.
The service will initially be offered on an eight-month trial basis to assess the feasibility and use of the route.
In granting the use permit, the Santa Fe National Forest has restricted the transport of bicycles into the National Forest, therefore, bicycles will not be permitted.
Service will begin during the route’s Non-Winter schedule to take advantage of the fall leaf-viewing season. The non-winter season runs Sept. 26 through Nov. 25 (or upon the opening of the Ski Santa Fe season) and throughout July and August 2016. During the non-winter season, service will be provided on two roundtrips on weekdays and three roundtrips weekends.
The Winter service will begin Thanksgiving Day (or upon the opening of the Ski Santa Fe season) and run through April 3. During that time, three roundtrips will be provided weekdays and seven roundtrips will be provided on weekends. The service will operate on a weekend schedule (seven roundtrips per day) on holidays during that time including Thanksgiving and the following day, Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and each day through the Spring Break period of March 7 through March 18.
During the non-winter schedule, the cost to ride the Mountain Trail will be $5 eastbound (uphill) and fare-free westbound (or downhill). During the winter schedule, the fare will be $5 per trip, eastbound or westbound.
Also, during the winter schedule, a token will be provided upon boarding the eastbound bus. Ski Santa Fe will honor that token with a $5 discount when it’s presented to purchase lift tickets, at the ski school, gift shop, and food services, with the exception of Totemoff’s bar. A transfer token will also be provided to riders disembarking at Ten Thousand Waves allowing them to get back on the bus at no additional cost upon return of the token. Ten Thousand Waves will provide a $5 discount on hot tubs, spa services, food and beverages when shown the transfer token.
A collaboration of public and private supporters have been brought together to help fund the route. The sponsors include: the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, Ski Santa Fe, Rio Metro RTD and the North Central Regional Transit District.
“We are excited to be able to launch the service this year and look forward to a successful trial season, and to be able to provide service for years to come,” stated Patti Bushee, NCRTD Board member and City of Santa Fe Councilor.
Miguel Chavez, NCRTD Board member and Santa Fe County Commissioner added, “We are pleased to see this service launch as a true public/private enterprise and are happy to finally see this come together as it’s been hoped for and talked about for many years now.”
In addition to the above mentioned public and private entities, additional participants in the discussions were the Pueblos of Tesuque and Nambé, the Santa Fe National Forest, Ski New Mexico, Santa Fe Trails, Tourism Santa Fe and Santa Fe MPO.
Riders of the route are encouraged to be aware of the fact that vast sections of the mountain remain sacred to Pueblo tribes and Native Americans. The NCRTD acknowledges that concern and has been working with its Pueblo members to provide materials to inform riders to be respectful and to be stewards of the mountain.
National Public Lands Day is Saturday, Sept. 26. It is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. For more information visit www.publiclandsday.org
NCRTD Executive Director Anthony Mortillaro expressed excitement over the fact that, “with this coming winter season, the NCRTD will be providing service to not only the Santa Fe ski basin, but also to Taos Ski Valley, Red River and Sipapu ski area with a commitment to safe and effective transit service to those areas.”