Saturday was busiest day in Steamboat Springs Transit’s history | SteamboatToday.com

Saturday was busiest day in Steamboat Springs Transit’s history

Scott Franz

Passengers board Steamboat Springs Transit buses at the Gondola Transit Center Monday afternoon. The bus service saw a record 12,034 riders on Saturday due to the WinterWonderGrass music festival.

— If you hopped or squeezed into a Steamboat Springs Transit bus on Saturday, you helped make history.

The local bus service carried 12,034 passengers, beating SST's previous single-day ridership record of 11,655 passengers that was set on New Year's Eve 2007.

"That's a pretty major mark to achieve," Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said. "Our drivers were awesome. It was full bus after full bus after full bus. And they did a great job safely and efficiently moving people around."

Saturday's record ridership numbers were influenced by the influx of thousands of music lovers who were in town for the WinterWonderGrass music festival.

The festival featured more than 25 bluegrass artists and reportedly drew visitors from more than 40 different states.

"It was definitely a bus-riding crowd," Flint said, noting many concertgoers hopped on buses to head downtown after shows ended in the evening. "The people were awesome. They were into the event and having fun."

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To put Saturday's milestone in perspective, consider the ridership numbers from the same weekend exactly a year ago.

Flint said the bus service carried 12,774 more passengers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday compared to the same three days last year.

This year, the service averaged more than 10,000 riders a day over the three days and carried a total of 31,827 passengers.

Flint said the city ran some extra buses over the weekend to accommodate the bigger crowds.

Though the city is being reimbursed for the additional police services the event demanded, Finance Director Kim Weber said she was not aware of a specific contribution that has been made on top of the standard special event fees for the extra bus services.

She added the city likely absorbed the cost of any extra buses that ran to accommodate festival goers.

The city is currently calculating the cost of the additional buses, which included three extra buses on Friday and five each on Saturday and Sunday.

“Cost recovery is a pretty big deal for special events in other resort communities, but here, I have found we are a gratuitous organization,” City Manager Gary Suiter said. “It varies from resort to resort, and it varies from event to event….We were looking forward to having WinterWonderGrass come here.”

Suiter said cost recovery on extra transit services might be something the city will look into if the event returns in future years.

The city has previously invested significant amounts of its time, manpower and money to facilitate other special events, including Winter Carnivals and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The investments were made with the hope that the exposure and sales tax revenue the events brought to town would pay off.

Police reports from the weekend show the WinterWonderGrass festival went relatively smoothly, with only a few hiccups.

On Sunday, officers responded to a report of an ATV that was stolen from the concert venue. The ATV was found Monday a few blocks away.

Police also had to respond Sunday night to a report of an uncooperative, intoxicated man who was booted from the festival. The man was given a ride back to his residence.

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