How not to slow the bus: Steamboat’s free transit line needs your help to stay on time (with video) |

How not to slow the bus: Steamboat’s free transit line needs your help to stay on time (with video)

Yielding to buses can help keep schedules on time

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Imagine trying to pull out into Lincoln Avenue traffic 40 times in one hour.

Steamboat Springs Transit bus drivers face that challenge over and over every single day, said Cadmus Mazzarella, transit technology specialist.

Under Colorado law, if the yield sign on the back of the bus is flashing, motorists behind the bus are required to yield to the bus and allow it to re-enter traffic.

“It’s quite simple, the buses just cannot get out with alacrity,” Mazzarella said. “They don’t accelerate fast. There are people on board so even if they did, the drivers couldn’t floor it. They will sit, leaving a stop. … If the bus can’t get out within a minute, that’s a huge delay.”

This delay is compounded if a bus is held up over and over as it enters traffic.

Mazzarella said this is the leading reason Steamboat Springs Transit buses are delayed.

“Letting the bus into traffic actually helps you, because more people will ride the bus, keeping more traffic off the road,” Mazzarella said. “Even if people don’t ride the bus, allowing the buses to maintain a schedule helps keep people on the buses and off the roads.”

He named traffic, snowy roads and the commotion of getting skis, snowboards, bikes or tubes on the bus as other common ways buses can get behind schedule.

“Very rarely does a maintenance concern delay a bus,” he said. “If it’s going to have a delay of more than 10 minutes, we’ll have a bus out there to replace it so it’s almost a nonissue.”

While it might not affect the bus schedule, parking on Lincoln Avenue also impacts traffic by forcing bus drivers into the inside lane of traffic. City buses must have 4-foot clearance on the right side of the bus. If traffic doesn’t allow a bus driver to get around a car with that clearance on Lincoln Avenue, they have to stop until they can.

“If a door isn’t closed all the way, the suction from the air (around) the bus can actually open car doors,” Mazzarella said. “If we drive too close, it can open the car door and then we hit the car door. That’s one of the reasons why we maintain that 4-foot clearance on the right.”  

Drivers should give buses space, Mazzarella said, as bus drivers are both “driving the large, unwieldy vehicle, but also answering passengers’ questions about the route, what their favorite restaurants are” and more.

Riders can help keep buses running on time, Mazzarella said, by being prepared to board when the bus arrives. If bringing an inner tube on the bus, it must be clean, dry and deflated, and tubers should be fully clothed.

Try to load bikes, skis and snowboards as efficiently as you can. When available, the ski racks are pretty straightforward: just place your skis in the slot.

Mazzarella said loading a bike can be a little bit more intimidating if you haven’t done it before. Each bus can accommodate three bikes.

To use the bike rack, wait for the bus to stop completely, then approach the rack, squeeze the yellow handle to pull the rack down, place your bike on the rack and secure the front tire by pulling the hook-like extension over the wheel against the bike frame. Instructions are printed on the bike rack, but if you need help, look up to the driver for guidance.

City buses were trending 93% on time this summer as of mid-July, according to the city manager’s July 10 report. This is slightly higher than last summer when buses were 90% on time.

Mazzarella said that quicker intervals between night-line buses improve delays as buses are less crowded and take less time to load and unload.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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