Steamboat Springs Transit manager named Colorado transportation professional of the year
Steamboat Springs — When Steamboat Springs Transit Manager Jonathan Flint goes on a bus tour in Switzerland, the bus driver has to field more questions from Flint about the bus itself than the surrounding scenery.
“They wonder ‘who is this guy?’,” Flint said Tuesday at his office that is filled with dozens of scale models of buses.
‘This guy’ has been a vital part of this city’s bus system since 1990.
And this year, the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies recognized Flint as the state’s transit professional of the year.
Flint accepted the award last month in Snowmass in front of transportation managers and officials from around the state
“I view this award as a reflection of a great staff and a great transit system,” Flint said Tuesday.
The city’s humble transit manager, who is known for his humor, attention to detail and love of bus-related statistics, started here 26 years ago as a bus washer.
Flint said he didn’t go to college expecting to start a career in transportation.
But after majoring in political science and minoring in psychology, he was enticed to join the world of buses when he saw one parked and adorned with a job advertisement touting the great views in Alaska.
“It said something to the effect of have an office with a view,” Flint recalled. “It sounded fun.”
And so for several years, Flint spent his summers driving tour buses in the Last Frontier, and his winters driving city buses here in Steamboat Springs.
Today, he oversees a bus system that transports more than 1 million residents, visitors and commuters around Northwest Colorado every year.
“Jonathan is a great manager who understands the importance of mass transit,” City Manager Gary Suiter said. “We’re fortunate to have him working for Steamboat Springs.”
Ann Rajewski, one of the executive directors of the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies, praised Flint as a kind, smart transportation manager.
She said when Flint gave a presentation at a state conference about what he looks for in a transportation consultant, consultants and transportations managers lined up to get a copy of all the questions Flint asks when he vets consultants.
“He’s so humble,” Rajewski said. “It was a treat to honor him in front of his peers.”
In their nomination of Flint, city officials praised him for the positive impact he’s had on the city’s transit system ranging from bus upgrades to the implementation of bus routes and schedules that have drawn record numbers of riders.
More recently, Flint has received praise for finding ways to fully staff the transit department and bring drivers back season after season.
And when bus drivers no longer had the option of living at the Iron Horse Inn, Flint found new housing for the seasonal workers.
Back in 2001, Flint said city bus drivers together had an average of only three-quarters of a year experience.
By 2015, the driving team had an average of just over four years of experience.
Three of Flint’s drivers have more than 30,000 hours of driving experience, and another one is approaching that milestone.
Flint, himself an avid bus rider, doesn’t take credit for SST’s success, or even his recent award.
“We have a great staff, and that’s what makes this thing function,” Flint said. “We have great drivers, great support staff, supervisors, and we’ve also had a supportive community and supportive leadership that has enabled us to create a great transit system.”
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Routt County’s Human Resources Coalition has outlined a three-year plan to help vulnerable county residents, putting particular focus on affordable housing, transit and mental health.