New state policy could allow Steamboat Springs Transit buses to zip around traffic jams
Steamboat Springs — Drivers who find themselves stuck in traffic jams as they approach downtown Steamboat Springs on a busy day might soon wish they were aboard a city bus.
Steamboat Springs Transit is exploring an opportunity to allow buses to travel in the shoulders and zip around traffic in some parts of the city.
Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said the shoulder option would be particularly useful on the stretch of U.S. Highway 40 between Hilltop Parkway and Third Street, where traffic can often move at a snail’s pace when there are a lot of visitors in town.
“We have a lot of issues when traveling to Third Street,” Flint said.
He said other areas where the shoulder option would help keep buses on schedule include U.S. 40 west of town between the Stock Bridge Transit Center and Snow Bowl Plaza.
The buses would only use the shoulder during times of heavy traffic congestion and could not travel more than 15 miles per hour faster than traffic in the other lanes.
The idea of buses using shoulders to maneuver around traffic became a reality in Colorado last year when the state legislature gave the Colorado Department of Transportation the ability to allow some bus operators to use the shoulders of highways.
The Flatiron Flyer, which runs between Boulder and Denver on busy U.S. 36, was one of the first buses to take advantage of the shoulder option.
Flint said the shoulder option is also popular for buses carrying commuters in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen.
Steamboat Springs City Council encouraged Flint to continue pursuing the shoulder option here in the Yampa Valley.
Flint also shared some other ideas he had for keeping the bus service on schedule.
He said there’s also an option to tweak traffic signals so they stay green if a bus is approaching.
Traffic jams in Steamboat have started to negatively affect the bus service’s on-time performance in recent years.
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