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Colorado Transportation Department Unveils the Bustang -- Ride 'em!

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This spring, the Colorado Department of Transportation will launch Bustang, the first state-owned and -operated bus system in Colorado. Three branches, all leaving from downtown Denver, will take residents to as far as Glenwood Springs, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. Bustang will connect the six largest transit systems in the state.

See also: CDOT Puts Local Officials in the Driver's Seat for Bike Map

The name was inspired by the state itself. "When you think of Colorado, you think of mustangs. You literally are welcomed by one out at DIA," says Amy Ford, CDOT director of communications. "Nothing could be closer to introducing Colorado."

The service will cost around $2 million a year to operate. Mark Imhoff, CDOT director of transit, says the department hopes to recover around 40 percent with fare prices. Back in 2009, the state legislature created the division of transit and rail, giving CDOT the authority to operate transit lines like Bustang. "We've been developing this for a couple of years," Imhoff says.

Each bus can hold 51 passengers, with the ability to move chairs in the middle to accommodate two wheelchairs. Wifi and USB ports are available for those who want to use technology while traveling -- which is pretty much everyone these days. There is a bathroom, and room for four bikes in the cargo space underneath.

The Glenwood Springs route, the longest of the three, will operate one round trip every weekday. The Colorado Springs and Fort Collins bus routes will operate six round trips a day, five of them during peak travel hours.

Multiple ride tickets will be available online when the service is launched, but single ride tickets will be available from fare boxes on each bus. Ticket prices vary widely depending on where you're going. Just looking to go skiing for a day? It's only $9 from Denver's Union Station to Loveland.

Bustang will be operational year round. When the roads get icy, each bus is equipped with drop-down chains for the tires that can be applied in seconds. "These are sturdy vehicles," Ford says. "We absolutely expect them to be able to handle to mountain passes."

When development of the project is complete, there will be a mobile Bustang app that provides schedule and fare information, and sells tickets. Similar to plane tickets that you can scan from your smartphone, the Bustang app will allow you to show your ticket electronically.

Although the system won't be operational for several months, the Bustang busses will be making appearances on the road soon, to test-drive times and train drivers. "We want to be able to test traffic, test stops and timing that we have planned for this schedule, to make sure that that's something that we can deliver," Ford explained.

Find information and updates on the CDOT website. Have a tip? E-mail editorial@westword.com.

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