The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) has announced that it will launch its RTD (“Blue Bus”) Mountain Trail route in October providing service from areas around downtown Santa Fe to recreational areas and businesses along NM 475 concluding at Ski Santa Fe.
A unique collaboration of public and private supporters have been brought together to 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 after a detailed process to bring together a committed group of public and private enterprise,” said Daniel R. Barrone, NCRTD Chair and Mayor of the Town of Taos. “I would like to acknowledge the support of Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee and Santa Fe County Commissioner Miguel Chavez for their roles in bringing this forward.”
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, Tourism Santa Fe and Santa Fe MPO.
The Pueblo of Tesuque in particular expressed concern that vast sections of the mountain remain sacred to Native Americans and that people accessing the mountain need to be made aware and sensitive to that. The NCRTD acknowledges that concern and will work with the Pueblo of Tesuque to provide materials to inform riders to be respectful and to be stewards of the mountain.
The service will initially be offered on an eight-month trial basis to assess the feasibility and use of the route. Exact details pertaining to frequency and specific stops along the route are currently being determined. The premium fare-based service will be offered seven days per week unlike the District’s 19 fare-free fixed and commuter routes that runMonday through Friday.
In January, the NCRTD assumed operation of the Taos Express from the Town of Taos which became its first fare-based premium weekend service. It provides service between Santa Fe and Taos.
Cost to ride the Mountain Trail route will be $5.00 one-way. Ski Santa Fe has offered to reimburse the one-way fare during its open ski season in the form of a $5 discount on one’s lift ticket for that day, or a voucher to be used at various services at the ski area on that day. Details are currently being finalized.
Anthony Mortillaro, NCRTD Executive Director, commented that “safe and effective transit service has been at the forefront of the discussions taking place over the past year. We believe that the Mountain Trail route will result in fewer cars on the mountain while still providing residents and visitors with access to skiing, hiking and biking, and to enjoy the beauty that lies at our doorstep.”
The RTD Mountain Trail route will launch in early October 2015 to take advantage of the fall leaf-viewing season and run through the first weekend in April. It will also run in the peak summer months of July and August 2016.
The North Central Regional Transit District provides free bus service Monday throughFriday to a service area that encompasses over 10,000 square miles of north central New Mexico including the counties of Taos, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe; the Cities of Santa Fe and Española and the Towns of Taos and Edgewood; as well as the Pueblos of Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh, Nambé, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and Tesuque. The company’s signature “RTD Blue Buses” provide additional transit connections to New Mexico Rail Runner, Santa Fe Trails, New Mexico Park and Ride, Los Alamos Atomic City Transit, Taos Chile Line and Red River Miner’s Transit. All of its buses are equipped with bike racks and are ADA accessible.