Bus passengers must exit from back of the bus, meaning snow piles around bus shelters can cause problems | SteamboatToday.com

Bus passengers must exit from back of the bus, meaning snow piles around bus shelters can cause problems

A Steamboat Springs Transit Service bus pulls into a bus loading zone Monday along Pine Grove Road in Steamboat. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs city officials are asking people to be more conscious of where they shovel snow along Lincoln Avenue, as it has recently posed safety issues for city buses.

Due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, passengers on Steamboat Springs Transit buses must exit through the back doors of the bus, so they do not come within 6 feet of bus drivers. And with that change, drivers are finding bus shelters are often piled up with snow in the space where passengers are asked to exit, leading to safety concerns about tripping over a snowbank or slipping on piles of ice.

“That area is cleared out for a reason, and it’s to allow for a safe boarding and exiting for passengers,” said Jonathan Flint, Steamboat Transit manager. “We need to keep that area open, so that we’re dropping people off, and they don’t have to climb over a snow bank or anything.”

The city and Colorado Department of Transportation plow the areas around the bus shelter. And then sometimes, snow is cleared off of sidewalks into bus shelter areas.

“It’s like an aspen grove, everything is linked together — bus stops, ADA parking and sidewalks — when it comes to snow in our downtown system,” Steamboat Streets Superintendent David Van Winkle said in a news release. “As additional snow piles up, it’s easy to want to place snow in these locations, but the city is asking that not occur and for your help since we still have many months of snow ahead.”

Flint said bus drivers have yet to report serious problems besides minor falls and general inconveniences.

“It’s absolutely the safest thing if passengers can get off and get right to the sidewalk and away from traffic,” Flint said.

Under current public health orders, buses can hold only 15 passengers, compared to their usual capacity of 60.

Flint said the combination of smaller capacity guidelines and more visitors spending time in Steamboat for the winter tourism season means more passengers are having to wait longer to ride to their destination.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase since the (Yampa Valley Regional Airport) flights have started,” he said. “What we’re experiencing is not necessarily much higher numbers, but more people that are unable to board the bus or have to wait for a couple buses before they can have space to get on.”

Weather forecasters are calling for several chances of snow through the Christmas holiday weekend, meaning those shoveling snow off Lincoln Avenue sidewalks need to remain conscious of not pushing snow from sidewalks into bus shelter areas, Flint said.

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