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What else of such value do you know to be free?

Let’s start with this: The Chaffee Shuttle is a free year-round service, designed to increase mobility options for residents and visitors in Chaffee County.

As part of Colorado’s Zero Fare, “We’ll Get You There” initiative, The Chaffee Shuttle has expanded its services and is encouraging residents and visitors to ride transit to help keep Colorado’s air clean during the summer months when air pollution is at its highest. The effort is a collaborative, statewide initiative designed to reduce ground-level ozone by increasing the use of transit — and it’s free to ride.

“The Zero Fare We’ll Get You There initiative is a great fit for The Chaffee Shuttle as it includes grant funding to expand the number of free routes we offer as well as how frequently we can service our community,” said The Chaffee Shuttle Board of Directors Chair Kate Garwood.

“We’ve already been working to raise awareness on the benefits of using transit within Chaffee County,” she added. “This summer, we can use this opportunity to educate and attract new riders to our services, which are free 365 days a year.”

The Chaffee Shuttle will join the effort to promote public transit during the months of June, July, and August. The effort is made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 22-180, the Program to Reduce Ozone Through Increased Transit. The grant program has been set up in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office.

Expanded services include extended hours for on-demand, door-to-door service. There is a new Monday route between Howard and Salida. The bus route between Buena Vista and Salida on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday also has extended hours.

Expanded Schedule Supports Commuters

Then as if free service isn’t a draw, starting July 31, The Chaffee Shuttle will expand service between Buena Vista and Salida to five days a week, Monday through Friday. This will finally make it the ideal service to support commuter travel between the two municipalities. For a full schedule and to view pick-up locations, visit

By joining the statewide Zero Fare campaign this summer, The Chaffee Shuttle hopes to entice new riders to experience cost savings, stress reduction, a safer ride, and increased productivity while helping get cars off the road and improving Colorado’s air quality.

Environmental Impacts are Major

Approximately 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation are due to day-to-day commutes. By leaving the car at home, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day, depending on the length of the trip.

“The pilot program that launched in August last year was highly successful. Transit systems from all over the state participated, ranging from those serving the largest cities to regional rural systems,” said Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) Executive Director Ann Rajewski.

“All the transit agencies that participated increased ridership during the program — ranging anywhere from two percent to 59 percent,”she added. “This year, we are expanding the program for the entire summer and are expecting to increase the number of transit agencies participating.”

Additional customer benefits of the Zero Fare program are substantial. Riders experience environmental, financial, lifestyle and community benefits of transit that include:

  • Cost savings  
    Taking the bus saves on car expenses including maintenance and parking, which add up quickly. Not only do you save money on gas, but you also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. According to a recent study by AAA, a new car’s routine maintenance and repairs could cost an average of $0.09 per mile. If you drive 10,000 miles in a year, that totals $900. If you drive 20,000 miles, that figure jumps to $1,800 annually.
  • Gas savings
    Riding public transit frees up additional funds in customers’ everyday budgets. In addition, public transportation saves the United States an estimated 4.2 billion gallons of gas annually reducing our dependency on foreign oil.
  • Reduction in traffic 
    Taking public transit keeps cars off the road, limiting traffic congestion, air pollution and ground-level ozone. Colorado’s population grew 39 percent over the past 20 years and is expected to grow another 30 percent in the next 20, significantly increasing traffic around the state. This robust growth makes it essential for commuters to have public transit options to offset the increase in traffic and increased distances to work.
  • Reduction in stress and increased safety
    Taking public transit removes the stress and anxiety of battling everyday traffic. Public transportation is one of the safest ways to travel and it is ten times safer per mile than traveling by car.
  • Increased productivity  
    While taking public transit, customers can catch up on reading, emails, podcasts or just sit back and relax.
  • Improved air quality 
    Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Using public transit creates 84 percent less carbon emissions than driving a car. That is a savings of 63 million metric tons annually.

For those who may not know, or who have seen the shuttle zipping by and wondered what it is all about — The Chaffee Shuttle is a nonprofit shared ride and public transit service that is free for everyone all year long. It handles both fixed routes and door-to-door services.

The Chaffee Shuttle provides transportation for medical appointments, work, shopping, and social activities throughout Chaffee County. It also links to transportation services going to Alamosa, Pueblo, Crested Butte, and Denver with the Bustang Outrider.

Images: courtesy of The Chaffee Shuttle

Editor’s Note: in answer to our question above (What else of such value do you know to be free?) Ark Valley Voice answers — our nonprofit, award-winning, credentialed news organization is also free; kept so that all people, not just those who can afford subscriptions have access to the news and information shaping our lives.

Resources underlying the Colorado  Zero Fare Program:

1 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) study:  brochure.pdf

2 Annual AAA Your Driving Costs 2022:

3 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) study:

4 CDOT report:

5 APTA (American Public Transportation Association) study:

6 2021 APTA Public Transportation Fact Book: