Bus ridership hits record level | SteamboatToday.com

Bus ridership hits record level

Mike McCollum

A record number of passengers rode Steamboat Springs Transit buses last Saturday. The spike in bus use was attributed to the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, Art in the Park and the lack of parking downtown because of ongoing construction projects.

— Art in the Park, the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and downtown construction pushed the number of passengers using Steamboat Springs Transit to record numbers last weekend.

About 5,700 passengers used city buses Saturday, and an additional 3,300 passengers rode the free buses Sunday.

“Saturday was our peak summer day ever, exceeding our historic peak event, which was the Fourth of July 2001, when the String Cheese Incident concert packed our buses,” said George Krawzoff, the city’s director of transit and transportation services. “This count of almost 6,000 passengers is more typical of a busy winter day.”

Krawzoff said the new location of the Balloon Rodeo was the largest contributing factor to the passenger increase. The 27th annual event was held for the first time at Bald Eagle Lake east of Steamboat Springs on U.S. Highway 40. The popular summer event typically was held on the field adjacent to the Meadows parking lot near the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. Because of construction at the Wildhorse Meadows development, the event had to be moved.

“When they operated out of the Meadows parking lot, many people drove or watched it from the hotels surrounding the area,” he said. “The venue this year did not allow the same type of spectator – all had to be transported in one bus.”

Steamboat Springs Transit provided five buses exclusively for Saturday’s Balloon Rodeo. Krawzoff said the nature of the venue led to some complications.

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“Some access limitations made it difficult for these buses to circulate as quickly as they needed to,” said Krawzoff, who noted a one-way bridge at the site significantly slowed traffic. “We are going to have a debriefing about the Balloon Rodeo, and we’ll discuss whether we will hold the event at the same location next year.”

Krawzoff added that because of construction downtown, fewer parking spaces were available, which also may have convinced many to ride the bus.

“It’s certainly a big plus when you look at the big traffic everyone is frustrated with right now,” he said. “You take that 6,000 people we transported and imagine if they were on the roads. It would have been a nightmare.”

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com