Arts group seeks new bus program

Organization wants transportation to cultural sites

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— A nonprofit arts group is seeking the Steamboat Springs City Council's help in developing a bus program to transport patrons between different cultural sites in the city.

ArtLink Inc. wants to rent a city bus every Thursday. Under the proposed agreement, the organization would pay $25 an hour for bus use, instead of the fully allocated cost of $41.39.

Transportation Director George Krawzoff said the $25 would cover the cost of the driver and fuel, but not the overhead costs of administration, building expenses and maintenance.

Most of those costs are already covered in the city budget and the City Council was supportive of the fee reduction when the organization presented its plan in February.

"The reason that the city is willing to do this, besides the fact that it is promoting art, is that it also serves to put more services on the road without incurring immediate costs," Krawzoff said.

The ArtLink bus service will be free and open to anyone. It will run from Ski Town Square to the Depot Art Center on 13th Street.

The bus service will cost the organization about $7,425 for the summer season.

Funding will come from the private sector, a fee charged to participating businesses, and possibly from a Steamboat Springs Resort Association grant.

Director Susan Schiesser said the program is limited to six restaurants and she is hoping for financial support from the lodging community.

"We are doing something to enhance their business too," she said.

ArtLink is a combination of artists and business people with the goal of building Steamboat's art tourism industry.

Schiesser said the idea is to make Steamboat a cultural destination with good art, fine dining and plays.

"The idea is to make a unified front to enhance all kinds of art," Schiesser said.

The group has already created a Web site and will feature television segments about local artists on public access cable.

The art bus would run every Thursday during the peak tourist season and once a month during mud season. The bus would operate from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and include an ArtLink representative on the bus. Bus drivers would announce what is available at each stop.

During the summer, ArtLink has plans for the bus route to begin at Torian Plum Plaza and the Sheraton, and then travel to the Yampa River Botanical Park for the Strings in the Mountains lunch concert. Stops would also allow riders to get off at downtown galleries, artists studios, restaurants, shops and the Depot Art Center.

Schiesser said the route would include special events like demonstrations, lecture series or displays.

The first day of the program is May 29.

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