City seeks bus drivers for winter

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The city is looking for more bus drivers to help cover its daily bus routes this winter.

To maintain its winter bus schedule from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., the Steamboat Springs Transit Department needs to have a crew of 40 drivers. Now, the city has 30 drivers and hopes to hire more by its next training session Nov. 22.

Transportation Director George Krawzoff said the driving job works well for people who have good interpersonal skills and for those who are semi-retired.

"It's a great job for anyone who is a people person and likes to be out and in the community all day. The community comes to visit you," he said.

Krawzoff said that a few years ago, the city recruited many of its winter drivers from Australia, which was very successful. The Aussies boosted the crew's morale and were great employees, Krawzoff said.

Krawzoff said that after the downturn in the economy, the city stopped recruiting from Australia and started looking inside the United States.

"There were way too many Americans out of work to be recruiting people from outside the U.S.," Krawzoff said. "But we continued to have trouble finding drivers."

Krawzoff said it was too late to start recruiting overseas for this year when city officials realized there could be a lack of interest locally for drivers.

He has started recruiting outside of Steamboat by sending job notices to other mountain towns, park services and other places that have hired summer seasonal employees.

The city would like to hire its full staff as soon as possible so it can publish its schedule. Without all the drivers in place, Krawzoff said the department will have to dip into its overtime budget. Last year, the city had budgeted $22,000 for overtime pay, and Krawzoff said they ended up spending $34,000. Drivers also are restricted in how many hours they can drive.

"Too many hours for the existing drivers are a problem for the system. We really need a full crew," Krawzoff said.

The city pays its bus drivers $12.33 an hour and gives drivers a $1,000 bonus if they stay for the entire winter season. Because they are part time, the drivers do not receive health insurance. The pay could be increased slightly after January.

The winter season starts Nov. 21 and runs until April 10, the day the mountain closes.

The cost of the two-week training session, which gives employers their Commercial Driver's License with a Class B and Passenger 2 Endorsement, is covered by the city, and the trainees get paid for their time. The drivers only have to pay for the licensing fee, which Krawzoff said is nominal.

To apply, those interested have to have driver's license and a good driving record with no major offenses, such as a drunken driving conviction or a history of speeding. Anyone interested in being a driver can call the city Transit Department at 879-3717.

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