Some Steamboat City Council members fear proposed bus service cuts will sting locals
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs City Councilman Scott Ford wants to put the brakes on a planned cut to the city’s bus service that would end all of the late-night service in the spring.
Ford thinks the cut would sting locals, especially workers who depend on the bus to get to and from work in the late evening hours.
“I want to protect this level of service,” Ford said Tuesday night as he proposed stopping the cut from going forward.
The proposal to spare the late-night service in the spring appeared to gain some support Tuesday from some other council members, including Kathi Meyer.
But the service’s fate won’t be decided until Nov. 14, when the council will consider giving final approval of the city’s $56 million budget proposal.
Ford said the cut is being implemented by the city to save about $45,000 in the budget next year.
If Ford’s proposal to forgo the cut does not succeed, the last city bus would leave the Stock Bridge Transit Center for the mountain area at 6:40 p.m. instead of 10:40 p.m. from April 15 to May 26.
To find money in the budget for the late-night spring service, Ford proposed cutting $50,000 from the city’s special event budget, which helps pay for summer and fall events such as bike races, concerts and festivals.
Council President Walter Magill and others on the dais did not get on board with that big of a reduction to the special event funding.
“It’s bringing people to Steamboat,” Magill said of the event funding.
In fighting for the late night service, Ford joked that he and Magill still have bruises from the last time the council OK’d significant cuts to the city’s bus service in 2014.
The council had to quickly backtrack after several angry residents showed up at council meetings to tell the city it had broken the bus system and was leaving riders stranded in the cold.
Steamboat Springs Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said Tuesday the planned cuts to the late-night service in the spring have the potential to impact 12,000 passengers overall, including repeat passengers.
Flint said on average, the night-line buses in the spring see an average of 19 riders per hour during the four hours of service that would be eliminated.
He noted that those ridership numbers weren’t far off from the state average of 22 to 23 riders per hour per bus.
But the shoulder season ridership is well below the average of 33 riders per bus each hour the city sees during the busiest times of the summer.
Flint said one of the reasons the city is proposing to cut the late-night spring service is to put more resources into the summer bus routes at the peak times when buses can run behind schedule because of heavy traffic.
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