Steamboat Springs City Council members want to keep the city's spring bus schedule intact.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, city Transportation Director George Krawzoff recommended reducing spring bus service by stopping rounds at 7:30 p.m. In previous years, the daily bus service had run at half-hour intervals until 8 p.m. and then every hour until midnight.
Krawzoff proposed bus service cuts for the spring, summer and fall, but said the most significant cut was in the spring.
"It's the first time in a long time that we haven't had service past 7 p.m.," Krawzoff said.
But council members said they did not want to see the service stopped and told Krawzoff to reinstate the former schedule. Councilwoman Kathy Connell was concerned about those with year-round jobs who depend on the bus to get to work.
"We want to encourage our community to get used to using transit. Now they are using the buses and we want to take them away," Connell said.
As the City Council went through its budget process last fall, it decided to not make any of Krawzoff's proposed transit cuts. Instead, the council opted to wait until after the winter to see whether any of the the reductions could be prevented through extra money from an increase in winter sales tax.
Connell noted that sales tax was up this winter from last year.
But Krawzoff said he was not asking for money Tuesday night and said there was enough money to run through the end of the year.
At Tuesday's meeting, Krawzoff told the council there was a 2 percent decrease in payroll costs that could help cover the added service. But he also noted that fuel costs were high enough to counteract those reductions.
The cost of fuel is 17 cents more per gallon than what the city budgeted in the fall. With 100,000 gallons of fuel used a year, the city could see a $17,000 expenditure that was not budgeted.
"We don't need a budget transfer right now," Krawzoff said. "But we will spend a little faster than we thought if nothing else changes."
Krawzoff said Tuesday night that the cuts were done in a manner intended to affect the fewest possible riders.
In 2004, transportation statistics show that 33,000 people rode the bus during the spring and 5,000 passengers used the bus during the evening, when the service reduction is proposed. Spring passengers were less than 4 percent of the total ridership throughout the year.
The winter carried the bulk of the riders, accounting for 70 percent of total passengers. The summer had 18 percent, and the fall had 7 percent of the total passengers in 2004.
"This is always a difficult service level discussion. On the one hand, we have the people (in the spring) that really rely on the transit service and live here," Krawzoff said. "And, if you look at the sheer numbers of the winter, you want to make sure the winter service is as good as it can be and then fill in the rest of the year."
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