For a stretch of many weeks, the Colorado Department of Transportation's bus that provides service between Denver and Fort Collins (as well Bustang riders say they have been stranded due to the cancellations and have been forced to pick between getting hotels or paying for expensive Uber or Lyft rides.) has been canceling rides regularly. Some
The Bustang is operated by CDOT but the drivers are employees of a third part contractor.
"I think it is a very critical link between Denver and Northern Colorado," said Pete Forrest, a former rider of the Bustang.
Forrest, who lives near the bus stop the Bustang visits in Old Town Fort Collins, said he used to ride the service to Denver to see Colorado Rockies games and more. However, he said the unreliability of the service has forced him to think otherwise.
"It happened to me twice, you are stranded down there," Forrest said.
Forrest said he has ridden the Bustang to Denver to see games. Knowing he was planning on drinking, he chose to ride the Bustang to avoid impaired driving and the hefty parking fees around Coors Field.
However, more than once he has went to catch a bus back from Denver to Fort Collins just to find out that CDOT had canceled his only planned ride home for the night.
"I find it ridiculous. And the most frustrating thing is when they say, 'Sorry for the inconvenience,'" Forrest said. "The inconvenience is a $150 Uber back or staying at a $250 hotel in Denver. It is more than an inconvenience."
Forrest showed his notifications from CDOT on his phone, showing dozens and dozens of texts alerting him of canceled bus rides between the cities just in the past month or so.
He admitted the inconvenience to him was minimal compared to those who were missing shifts of work due to the cancellations, most of which aren't announced until it is too late to make adjustments.
John Hannan recently moved to Fort Collins and said he loved living in the Northern Colorado town. However, on his first attempt at using the Bustang, he was met with cancellations.
CBS News Colorado's northern Colorado reporter Dillon Thomas was compiling elements for this report when two busses were suddenly canceled.
Hannan and his wife were left waiting for future rides. They were trying to take the Bustang to a wedding. Fortunately, they planned to arrive in Denver early and were able to still make the wedding by taking a later bus.
"Luckily we took one or two busses early or you would've missed it," Hannan said. "They aren't paying enough. They seem to be out of drivers."
A spokesperson for CDOT confirmed that a driver shortage was largely to blame for the repetitive cancellations
In a statement issued to CBS News Colorado, CDOT said the contractor has a shortage of drivers like many other entities. The spokesperson said the contractor has a difficult time bouncing back from when someone calls out sick or has an emergency due to that driver shortage. They also said even when they do have additional drivers available, the hours they are limited to driving often restrict the available drivers from coming in and filling in.
CDOT said they hope to increase funding for advertising about their hiring process, and they would also like to increase funding for more driver trainers. By doing so they believe they can expedite the training process.
Riders CBS News Colorado spoke with said they would be willing to pay a little more for the rides if it meant drivers were compensated more and more likely to show for their shifts.
"It is an important job, people's lives are in your hands. If they paid people enough, they would get more drivers," Forrest said. "It is a great bus if they could just find somebody to drive it."
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