Advocates See Colorado’s Transportation Future in New Roaring Fork Electric Bus Service

December 3, 2019

Travis Madsen, SWEEP, | 720-937-2609
Stefan Johnson, CLEER, | 970-704-9200
Danny Katz, CoPIRG, | 608-215-0929
Vanessa Cordova, Colorado Sierra Club, | 219-218-4408
Jessica Goad, Conservation Colorado, | 720-206-4235


[ASPEN, CO] – Today, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority launched eight new electric, zero-emissions buses as part of its public transit service, operating in and around the valley between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, Colorado. Leaders of the GoEV City Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations working to accelerate clean transportation solutions, praised the project:

“RFTA is proving that electric buses work under the harshest conditions of altitude, temperature, and along long distance routes in rural mountain communities,” said Stefan Johnson, Transportation Program Coordinator at Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER). “If they can work here, electric buses can work basically anywhere.”

“RFTA and its riders will save hundreds of thousands of dollars by moving toward electric buses,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “Electric buses are more efficient, cheaper, cleaner, and better than diesel. Congratulations to RFTA, the City of Aspen, Holy Cross Electric, and all of the local and state leaders who helped take this visionary step into the future. We hope other agencies around the state and region follow suit.”

“The Roaring Fork Valley is a transportation leader yet again. For years they have operated the nation’s only rural bus rapid transit line. Now they are deploying electric-powered buses,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Director. “These electric buses are not only cleaner, but they will save RFTA money to operate them over the next decade. This is a model for everyone.”

“Harmful emissions continue to rise from the transportation sector, and as the energy sector gets cleaner and cleaner, electric vehicles such as these RFTA buses will lead the way to cleaner air and a safer climate,” said Erin Riccio, Conservation Colorado Organizer.

“This is a perfect example of how Colorado is accelerating the transition to clean, electric transportation,” said Emily Gedeon, Conservation Program Director at the Colorado Sierra Club. “We’re excited about an electric transportation future, and we hope more communities will get on board.”


RFTA acquired the buses from bus manufacturer New Flyer, with financial assistance from the Federal Transit Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the City of Aspen, and other nearby communities. Local utility Holy Cross Electric worked with RFTA to install bus charging infrastructure, to create a cheaper utility rate designed to increase access to electricity for public transportation, and to assess ways to power the buses with renewable energy. In total, the project cost $9.2 million. RFTA expects each bus to save up to $400,000 in fuel costs and $125,000 in maintenance costs over 12 years of service, with additional benefits including reduced noise and cleaner air.

Other Colorado transit agencies, school districts and transportation providers, including RTD, are moving toward electric fleets. The State of Colorado is providing assistance, including dedicating $70 million remaining from the VW diesel emissions scandal settlement to purchase more electric vehicles. Electric utilities, including Xcel Energy, are designing new electricity rates created for fleets and transit agencies to access affordable electricity as a transportation fuel.

By May of 2020, Xcel and Black Hills Energy will develop and submit transportation electrification plans to the Public Utilities Commission, pursuant to SB19-077. These plans will help facilitate increased use of electricity to power vehicles in Colorado, including buses, trucks and passenger cars — saving billions of dollars while reducing global warming pollution and cleaning up our air.