Public transit is set to go to new heights this fall with the announcement that "Blue Buses" will travel to the Santa Fe ski area as part of services by the North Central Regional Transit District.

The Mountain Trail route will begin in October between downtown Santa Fe and recreational areas in the Santa Fe National Forest and businesses along Hyde Park Road, says the RTD, but the details of the frequency of the shuttles and the locations of stops are still in the works. The loop is initially planned as an eight-month pilot to measure the route's feasibility.

Anthony Mortillaro, RTD's executive director, says it's the organization's hope that the "route will result in fewer cars on the mountain while still providing residents and visitors with access to skiing, hiking and biking, and to enjoy the beauty that lies at our doorstep."

The transit service announcement also notes that officials from the nearby Pueblo of Tesuque expressed concern that vast sections of the mountain remain sacred to Native Americans and that it plans to "provide materials to inform riders to be respectful and to be stewards of the mountain."

The cost to ride the Mountain Trail route in a four-wheel-drive bus will be $5 one way, with a rebate for those who buy lift tickets during ski season. Buses will also include bike racks.

"It encourages this new emphasis on our outdoor economy," says Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee, who was among elected officials to push for the route. Bushee says she expects it to be a popular way to get up the mountain.

"I'm excited about the safety aspect, and I'm excited about encouraging our youth to ski again and I'm excited about the environmental aspect of it," she tells SFR, noting that Santa Fe city and county as well as the NCRTD, the Rio Metro RTD and the operators of the ski area have made contributions to the project so far.

The transit district buses travel a service area that encompasses over 10,000 square miles of north central New Mexico including the counties of Taos, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe; Española, Santa Fe, Taos and Edgewood; as well as the pueblos of Pojoaque, Ohkay Owingeh, Nambé, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and Tesuque.