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Transit services may be cut

Facing budget restraints, buses will run less in shoulder season

Christine Metz

City Transportation Director George Krawzoff has proposed reducing bus service during the shoulder season while providing more service during the peak of winter.

The shoulder season, which occurs from April to May and from September to November, has low passenger counts, Krawzoff told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night.

Krawzoff’s shoulder-season proposal is to start bus service at 7 a.m., run buses every 30 minutes and stop at 7:30 p.m. Currently, buses run for every 30 minutes until 9:30 p.m. and for every hour until midnight during the spring, every 20 minutes until 9 p.m. and every hour until midnight on the weekdays, and until 2 a.m. on the weekends during the fall.

Jonathan Flint, operations manager, said the reduction would affect some residents.

“We know that any cuts in service will affect somebody,” Flint said. “We just looked at ridership, and it doesn’t make any sense for deep service cuts in the winter when most people use it. It is the shoulder season when the fewest people are riding the bus.”

Krawzoff said the cuts would affect those who take night classes at Colorado Mountain College and late night restaurant and bar patrons.

The City Council has requested that each of the city’s departments present a budget to the council this summer before the daylong budget hearing in October. The city has set a target for each departmental budget to increase by no more than 3.5 percent.

Krawzoff said increasing personnel costs mean operational expenses have to be decreased to meet the budget constraints.

Fuel prices have jumped from less than a dollar per gallon to more than $1.60 per gallon, Krawzoff said. That increase accounts for a $50,000 increase in the transit budget, Krawzoff said.

To meet the community’s demand for new bus routes, Krawzoff said the department would have to double its budget, which is proposed at $2.2 million.

Requests have been made for new routes to be added to Steamboat II, Heritage Park, West End Village, downtown, Fish Creek Falls Road, condos north of Mount Werner and Eagle Ridge Drive.

Krawzoff said to add a new route year-round could cost $200,750 or $136,600 for winter only.

Councilwoman Kathy Connell suggested working with the lodging community to add new routes. She said the current system is unequal. She said it provides access to some lodging properties, while others pay to be included on a route and some are not served at all.

She suggested the city look at partnering with the lodging community to add more services and that the city consider adding new routes that have funding from private sources.

If the city would allow the transportation department to exceed the 3.5 percent increase, Krawzoff said his first priority would be to add another mechanic during the winter. He also said adding a downtown shuttle or another winter route would be a higher priority than restoring the shoulder season schedules.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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