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Orbiter shuttle program comes to an end

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The base shuttle, the Orbiter, will be making its final pass around Peterson Air Force Base on May 31.

For almost four years, the Orbiter has made numerous trips around base daily, starting at the visitor's center, ending at the base exchange, and stopping at multiple locations in between. According to James Gazetti, 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron chief dispatcher, there are several reasons the shuttle is going away including cuts in civilian manning, cuts in budget, and a lack of riders.

Gazetti said the Orbiter program started in 2008 when the Colorado Springs Mountain Metro public bus stopped making stops on base. The shuttle was established as a quality of life program for anyone with base access. "(Commanders) wanted some type of transportation option for people living on base to get around to the pharmacy, Building 1 and stops like that, so they established the on base shuttle," he said.

Active duty members and Department of Defense civilians have priority to ride the shuttle. However, the shuttle has been averaging only two riders from this category every day. "When you factor in all the costs of the vehicle, fuel and maintenance, the cost per (rider) is about $48," Gazetti said.

Family members and retirees ride the shuttle on a space available basis. Space-A riders have averaged 18 per day, mostly going from the visitor's center to the pharmacy. Space-A riders significantly increase the use of the shuttle, but not enough to justify the cost of maintaining the program, Gazetti said.

"In light of (the manning cuts) and the budget constraints we're all facing, we had to do away with (the shuttle)," Gazetti said.

A new taxi service will be available for active duty and DOD civilians starting June 1 on a first come, first served basis. "They can request to be picked up and, as long as they're conducting official business, we will be happy to transport them anywhere they need to go," Gazetti said.

For more information about the new taxi service or to request a ride, call 556-4307.

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