DENVER -- Regional leaders from Vail to Colorado Springs have signed a letter urging the Colorado Department of Transportation to expand its statewide bus system known as Bustang.
Right now, Bustang operates three routes with 16 buses. The North Line runs between Denver and Fort Collins, the West Line between Denver and Glenwood Springs, and the South Line between Denver and Colorado Springs.
"Clearly people are using it and so we want to see more of it," said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group. "It's a critical tool for encompassing all the growth that Colorado is taking in the next decade."
Katz delivered the letter to CDOT's transportation commission signed by 41 local officials from across the state. The letter asks for a general expansion of the program including more frequent times and more routes.
"We're at a point in Colorado where we cannot widen our way out of traffic," said Katz. "Now is the time to invest even more and continue to expand it to other places."
CDOT said the popular purple bus with free Wi-Fi and comfy seats saw a 52 percent increase in ridership last year with 156,000 riders.
"We're filling a need. People want alternatives to driving their car," said Michael Timlin, CDOT's bus operations manager.
Timlin said CDOT is expanding Bustang as fast as it can.
It plans to run a third route up to the mountains starting next ski season and expand to Grand Junction and Pueblo next year.