Steamboat Springs successfully recruits winter bus drivers as other ski towns struggle
Steamboat Springs — A team of seasonal bus drivers who hail from at least 11 different states are ready to start shuttling thousands of residents and visitors around Steamboat Springs this winter.
But some other Colorado ski resort towns aren’t so lucky this year.
The Summit Daily News reported last week that due to a shortage of drivers, buses in Summit County that serve the Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and Keystone ski resorts will not be able to switch to the winter schedule until Dec. 11.
The service was also pared down.
Steamboat has faced similar staffing challenges in previous years and had to rely on giving some drivers overtime to make up the difference.
For a season, the city also attempted to pare down the service but ended up bringing it back after the changes left many riders out in the cold.
Thanks to recruiting efforts made by this city’s transit employees, some available rooms at the Iron Horse Inn and a recent raise in driver pay from $15.63 to $17.36 an hour, Steamboat Springs Transit isn’t short on drivers this year.
And the winter schedule will start on time on Sunday.
“I’m thrilled we have a full staff,” Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said Friday. “It has just been a ton of work.”
Driver shortages have plagued Colorado resort towns as the economy has recovered, and there are more job opportunities.
A recent 9News report said RTD was offering incentives to new drivers to try and cope with a driver shortage on the Front Range.
Flint credited operations supervisor Tyler Kern and supervisor Tony Benitiz for the success of this city’s driver recruiting program.
“Those two guys really started the recruiting process in early summer,” Flint said.
He said the availability of six to 10 units at the Iron Horse also helped because drivers could find housing they could afford.
Flint has also been able to rely on successful driver recruiting relationships Steamboat has established with Alaska tourism company Holland America and National Parks.
Steamboat’s bus service is often operated by bus drivers who spend their summers driving in other tourist destinations.
The city’s 17 seasonal bus drivers and two supervisors were recognized last month at a Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.
Public Works Director Chuck Anderson called them the city’s ambassadors and greeters for the winter.
View the winter schedule below this story.
To track the buses in real time, click here.
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The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a winter storm warning for much of the West Slope ahead of a major weather system expected in the area starting Thursday.