Bus riders in Steamboat Springs poised to avoid repeat of service cuts this winter | SteamboatToday.com

Bus riders in Steamboat Springs poised to avoid repeat of service cuts this winter

Scott Franz
A Steamboat Springs Transit bus picks up passengers Wednesday on Pine Grove Road. The city is proposing to bring back bus lines that were cut or scaled back last winter.
Scott Franz

— Steamboat Springs Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said Wednesday he has a much better feeling about the upcoming winter bus schedule this year than he did last year.

With an early funding commitment from the Steamboat Springs City Council and improved driver recruiting efforts, the transit service plans to avoid a repeat of the major cuts and changes that left many riders frustrated last year.

That means no more Aqua Line and transfers between west Steamboat and the ski area.

“I know the staff and the drivers and I think everyone in the city is looking forward to getting these old routes back up and running,” Flint said. “The Yellow Line is back to the way it was. The Purple Line is back to the way it was.”

The schedule the city ran in the 2013-14 winter season was used as the template for the proposed routes this year.

Flint said one of the minor tweaks that could be made to the upcoming schedule is to have the winter Yellow Line run exactly like it does in the summer.

CIty Council will discuss the proposed routes on Tuesday during its all day budget hearing.

Look at the proposed winter schedule in full at the bottom of this story.

A year after it had trouble recruiting enough seasonal drivers to maintain the previous levels of bus service, Flint and SST have been hard at work with their driver recruiting efforts.

A supervisor was tasked this year with visiting several transportation companies in the region with brochures and information about driving for SST. Drivers who sign up well in advance of the winter season are also receiving an early bird signing bonus.

And Flint said being able to offer housing to drivers at the city-owned Iron Horse Inn has proven to be beneficial.

“We’re still out pounding the pavement looking for people, and we don’t have all the positions filled at this point for the winter, but I definitely feel much more positive about it this year than last year,” Flint said.

Flint and SST have had more time than they usually do to plan bus routes and recruit drivers for the upcoming season.

SST usually had to wait until October to see what its budget would look like and plan for the service accordingly.

In May, the City Council approved a proposal to allow the transit department to use 14 percent of the city’s general fund for budget planning purposes.

The council essentially assured SST it would not cut its budget this fall.

The funding commitment has allowed SST to propose bringing back the most popular lines that saw significant changes and cuts last winter.

Steamboat Springs Transit also plans to use additional state funding to offer more regional bus service between Steamboat Springs and Craig.

This winter, the plan is for the regional bus to run twice seven days a week as opposed to scaling down to only one bus on the weekends.

Flint said the lack of a second bus on the weekends created some capacity issues last winter season.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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