Steamboat Springs City Council hits the brakes on some proposed bus service cuts
November 14, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs workers who depend on the city's bus service to get home at night during mud season should thank riders such as Roger Carlson the next time they see them.
Carlson, a Chicago Cubs fan who bus drivers call the 'Taste of Chicago' for his tradition of handing out Tootsie Rolls to passengers he meets, was among a group of riders that successfully lobbied the city this week not to cut the evening bus service during the off-season.
That means the bus will continue to run until 10:40 p.m. from April 15 to May 26.
"I really wish more people in this town would use the free bus," Carlson told the council after he recounted how much he uses the bus to get around town.
To save about $46,000 in the budget, the city was planning to cut the evening spring service so it would stop running at 6:40 p.m. instead of 10:40 p.m.
But the cut didn't sit well with several riders and the city's elected officials who worried it would sting local workers and college students.
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Joanne Davidson told the council she relies on the bus to get to a job during the mud season that starts at 11 p.m.
Without the evening service, she calculated she would have to take a cab to work for six weeks at a total cost of $192.
And resident Tim Keenan said he knew several service workers who would have to find another way home if the evening service was cut.
"We need to be a transit-friendly community," newly-seated City Councilwoman Sonja Macys said before the council voted unanimously to avoid the elimination of the night-line service in the spring.
However, sparing that service didn't come without consequence.
To keep the budget balanced, the city will run the buses every 30 minutes after 8 p.m. in the spring, summer and fall.
The buses previously ran every 20 minutes after 8 p.m.
The 30-minute bus frequency schedule will also be used at night in the winter.
Some residents who showed up to weigh in on the bus cuts said reducing the frequency of buses at night instead of eliminating them altogether was a reasonable compromise.
Steamboat Springs Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said riders could download the city's RouteShout mobile app or visit steamboatsprings.net/transit to see the bus schedule and plan accordingly.
In addition to the calls to save the evening service, bus riders asked the council to consider improving the bus system.
Carlson said he’d love a bench at the bus stop near Casey’s Pond to sit on while he waited for the ride.
And Keenan suggested running the buses later than 10:40 p.m. in the evenings in the summer to serve residents and visitors who stay out late downtown for summer concerts and other events.
In other action:
• The council named Jason Lacy as the new council president and Kathi Meyer as president-pro tem. Lacy takes the gavel from Walter Magill, who ended his decade-long tenure on the council Tuesday night. Council members Sonja Macys, Scott Ford and Lisel Petis were sworn in along with Meyer to start their new terms on the council.
• The council approved plans for a new shared law enforcement facility that will house the city's police force and the Routt County Sheriff's Office next to the county jail in west Steamboat.