It’s a best-kept RTD secret no more: ‘Next stop, Eldora’

Let’s start the groundswell now for a new Oscar category: Best Performance by a Public Transit Vehicle in a Popular Film. 

Back by public demand, this year’s Academy Award nominee could be the RTD Route NB, transporting skiers on a relaxed trip from Downtown Boulder Station to Nederland – and beyond, to Eldora Mountain Resort. 
    
Route NB gets a starring role – if a brief one – in “Timeless,” this year’s Warren Miller ski film. As they do each year, the filmmakers traveled all around the world for mind-blowing ski footage – and this year, they spent a good deal of time at Colorado’s beloved Eldora Mountain. On their way to the resort’s friendly slopes, the filmmakers show snow riders boarding the NB route and give a major plug to ditching a car.
    
“Now that’s mass transit a skier can love!” Olympian and film narrator Jonny Moseley proclaims. 
    
As he heads to the bus in Boulder – carrying his snowboard while riding a skateboard, of course – CU student Cooper Branham says, “Pop out of an 11 o’clock class and just grab your stuff, all of a sudden you’re on top of the mountain ready to go.”
    
The big screen debut for a humble RTD bus was no overnight success, transit agency officials point out. RTD has been running a bus line up to Eldora, through sleet and snow, since the 1980s, serving both enthusiastic skiers and grateful ski mountain employees. The route changed its name in August; as seen in the film, it previously was Route N.

“It’s a route that skiers count on,” said Nataly Handlos, lead service planner and scheduler for RTD.
    
With Eldora opening tomorrow – its earliest first day in 22 years – because of fantastic early season snow, the Route NB will be getting an early audition. On a typical weekday, the first ride from Boulder heads up the canyon at 4:57 a.m. to meet workers’ needs, Handlos said. Heavier ridership usually starts on the 6:43 a.m. bus. The first rides depart Boulder on weekends and holidays at 6:10 a.m.

One-way fares this year are $5.25; seniors and Medicare recipients can ride for $2.60, and youth up to 19 for only $1.60. A Regional/Airport Day Pass for $10.50 gets you rides anywhere in the RTD service area all day, including connections. The mountain buses include luggage bays for skis and winter gear.

Both driving and riding the route can be a challenge during Colorado’s wildest weather days. Many of the regular NB operators live up the canyon and are based out of Boulder, so they know the 20-mile route well and are used to the conditions. Operators on the line get a special certification with training to put chains on and off. 

“We like to have the seasoned and full-time operators do this, because of their overall safety record and knowledge,” Handlos said. 

As Eldora has expanded, updated its features and seen great snow, parking lots have been full and younger riders want a new way to head to the mountain. 

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Handlos loves that Eldora and Warren Miller Films wanted the bus route in the movie, which opens in Colorado in Fort Collins tomorrow and debuts in Denver at the Paramount Theatre on Nov. 14, 15 and 16. 

“We really appreciate their partnership and their willingness to work with us,” she said. “Eldora Mountain’s management has been a great partner in recent years in trying to promote the ski bus and figure out new variations.”