Free buses available New Year's Eve

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— Steamboat Springs Transit will increase its bus service after midnight New Year's Day to ensure that party goers do not drink and drive within the city limits.

On New Year's Eve, the city bus system will run its regular shift until midnight and then have its full crew working to take home people celebrating the new year in Steamboat Springs.

"We encourage everyone to ride the bus," City Transportation Director George Krawzoff said.

Up until midnight, the city will offer its regular bus service in 20-minute intervals through the downtown and mountain area. After midnight, the city will put eight extra buses on route, in addition to the regular two, and keep them running until 2 a.m. or until everyone who wants a ride gets safely home, Krawzoff said.

"We are taking them out in teaspoonfuls, then having to bring them home in buckets," Krawzoff said.

New Year's Day tends to be the peak day for the city's bus system, with about 9,000 riders, Krawzoff said. On a typical winter day, the buses serve 5,000 to 6,000 riders.

The buses will operate on their regular schedule on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

"There is no need to drink and drive. You can drink and ride the bus," Krawzoff said.

The Steamboat Springs Police Department also is encouraging people to catch the bus, take Alpine Taxi or have a designated driver if they plan to drink alcohol during the holiday season.

As in past years, the police department has received state funding to add extra patrolmen to its shifts during the holiday season to watch out for those driving under the influence of alcohol.

City Director of Public Safety JD Hays said the police department would be out in full force New Year's Eve, though no DUI checkpoints are scheduled.

"We always have an eye toward DUI enforcement on really populated days with lots of folks in town," Hays said.

The police department will be out with the Routt County Sheriff's Office and Colorado State Patrol.

"We'll be out (and looking) for people driving under the influence in attempt to keep the highway safe," Hays said.

Last year on New Year's Eve, the police department and sheriff's office made five DUI arrests.

Two patrols were scheduled during the holidays this year, one on the weekend of Dec. 10, when there were quite a few office holiday parties, and one during the Christmas and New Year's Eve week.

During the office party weekend, the Steamboat police department made two DUI arrests, and 365 DUI arrests were made across the state.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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