Learn to Easily Navigate the Boulder Bus System

BOLT bus
••• ( CC BY 2.0) by itdp

Known as one of the greenest cities in America, Boulder, Colorado boasts a terrific bus system and plenty of walking and biking trails to connect you anywhere you need to go in and out of town.

However, due to the extensiveness of the Boulder bus system, navigating your way around can be rather intimidating if you're unfamiliar with the fees, transfers, and strange route letter and number combinations.

Whether you're traveling to Boulder or have just moved to the city, familiarizing yourself with the bus routes and understanding how the bus network operates will prepare you for getting around this pedestrian-friendly mountain town.

Explaining the Bus Network

There are two main bus networks that serve Boulder: the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and the Community Transit Network (CTN), and fares in 2018 are $2.60 one-way on the CTN, $4.50 one-way on the RTD ($9 for a day pass), and $9 one-way to the airports.

The RTD is a large, independent network of bus and light rail routes that serve the entire greater Denver area, from Boulder to Denver International Airport. The Community Transit Network, while managed and operated by RTD, is a separate fleet of buses that specifically transport passengers through Boulder and connects with regional lines.

Although technically separate entities, the RTD and CTN work in tandem to provide bus and train service to get you pretty much anywhere in Boulder. Fares for local routes generally run $2.60 one-way, but you can also buy ticket books or monthly and yearly passes; for Skyride, the fares are $9 to $13, depending on your place of departure.

Bus Routes and Special Transit Services

Depending on where you want to go in Boulder and the surrounding area, you'll need to access different bus routes, including the SkyRide, Late Night Transit, and Ski-n-Ride services. The Regional Transportation District has a full explanation and list of bus routes in Denver and Boulder online as well as maps and full schedules of every route in the system.

Of the most popular destinations in Boulder, you'll likely need to connect between Colorado University (CU), downtown, and Boulder Valley. Popular routes in Boulder include:

  • The HOP: Connects the 29th Street Retail District with downtown, University Hill, and CU.
  • The SKIP: Travels north and south on Broadway and connects Boulder Community Hospital, Ideal Market, the North Boulder Rec Center, downtown, CU, the Table Mesa shopping center, and Fairview High School.
  • The JUMP: Travels east and west on Arapahoe and connects Boulder High School, the Boulder Public Library, downtown, Twenty Ninth Street, Boulder Valley School District – Arapahoe, and the central Lafayette Park-N-Ride.
  • The BOUND: travels north and south on 30th Street and connects Diagonal Highway, the Twenty Ninth Street retail district, the Mapleton Ball Fields, Williams Village/Bear Creek, Scott Carpenter Park, and BaseMar Shopping Center.
  • The DASH: Travels east and west along South Boulder Road and connects CU, NIST/NOAA, Table Mesa Park-N-Ride, Downtown Louisville, and Lafayette Park-N-Ride.
  • The STAMPEDERuns between CU’s main campus, east campus, and the CU Research Park.
  • The BOLTTravels on Diagonal Highway and connects Boulder and Longmont, with stops at Boulder Station, Diagonal Plaza, Front Range Community College, IBM, Longmont, Niwot Park-N-Ride, Roosevelt Park-N-Ride, and Twin Peaks Mall Park-N-Ride.
  • The Buff Bus: Operated by CU Housing and Dining Services and connects students who live in Williams Village and Bear Creek to the main campus.

The RTD also offers several special routes for access to areas outside of Boulder or during off-peak hours. Late Night Transit routes provide expanded hours of operation on Thursday through Saturday nights with buses every 10 minutes from midnight to 3 a.m. Meanwhile,  SkyRide originates in Boulder and terminates at the Denver International Airport, and the Ski-n-Ride offers a great way to hit the slopes all the way to Eldora Mountain Resort during the ski season.

Regional Lines and Seasonal Routes

Along with the standard CTN and RTD bus services that frequent Boulder, there are also a number of regional lines and seasonal routes provided between this quiet mountain town and nearby destinations in Colorado. Regional routes include:

  • Flatiron Flyer: Originating at the Downtown Boulder Station and terminating at the Denver Union Station, the Flatiron Flyer makes several stops for commuters.
  • FLEX: Offers service between Boulder and Fort Collins with stops in Loveland, Berthoud, and Longmont. You can also transfer to the RTD bus system in Longmont and Boulder.
  • BOLT: Travels along Highway 119 from Boulder to Longmont with stops at several Park-n-Ride locations including Coffman Park, the Peaks Mall, and the Front Range Community College.
  • The GSThe route starts in Golden at the Federal Center Building 810 and terminates at the Downtown Boulder Station, making stops at the Natural Renewable Energy Lab and Table Mesa, among others.
  • The ABOffers three routes (ABAB / AB1 / AB2) starting either at Boulder Junction at Depot Square Station or at the Downtown Boulder Station and terminating at the Denver Airport Station - Gate 6.
  • The J: Starts in Longmont at the Euclid and 18th Street Station and terminates at the Hover - Boston Station in East Boulder at Colorado University.
  • The NTravels eastbound from Eldora Mountain Resort in Nederland to the Downtown Boulder Station along Highway 119, with stops at the Nederland High School and the city's Park-n-Ride as well as Boulder falls and Magnolia Drive.

Seasonal routes in the Boulder area include the HOP 2 Chautauqua and the Park to Park Chautauqua Shuttle. The HOP 2 Chautauqua runs in the spring, summer, and early fall from Downtown Boulder, taking 9th Street down to Baseline Roud, then looping back around 27th Way and Broadway, offering access to Chautauqua Park and its numerous hiking trails. Similarly, the Park-to-Park free shuttle to Chautauqua runs every summer weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.