This winter, almost 300 tickets have been given to drivers who illegally parked in bus-loading zones downtown.
City Transportation Director George Krawzoff said the city continues to have problems with drivers ignoring the no-parking signs, forcing buses to stop in the middle of traffic. The majority of bus stop violations have occurred at the Ninth Street and Lincoln Avenue bus stop.
The eastbound stop was moved in the fall and is past the traffic light and in front of some popular businesses. The yellow striping that marks the stop cannot be seen easily, and trees and other signs also distract drivers, causing them to overlook the no-parking sign, Krawzoff said.
"If people find a parking space that is too good to be true, then probably, it is not a valid parking space," he said.
When the vehicles are parked in the loading zones, the buses are forced to stop in the stream of traffic. As passengers get on and off the buses, vehicles are stopped, which backs up traffic on the side streets, too.
A $25 ticket is issued for any bus stop violation, and no warnings are given.
The city moved the Ninth Street bus stop and cannot change it until the spring. Having the stop after the traffic light works well for bus drivers, Krawzoff said. It allows the buses to pull out when the light turns red and traffic is stopped behind the buses.
With stops before the lights, bus drivers can wait through one or two light cycles before they can safely pull out.
"In some cases, the traffic just keeps coming, and they get stuck there for a light or two. That is very detrimental," Krawzoff said.
The bus stop parking problem is not all bad, Krawzoff said. The taken spaces have allowed the transportation department to test what it would be like if the city expanded its corner sidewalks.
One of the items the Steamboat Springs Main Street group has discussed is extending the sidewalks to allow more pedestrian walkways at the street corners. If sidewalks were extended, it would force buses to have to load and unload in the stream of traffic. The situation would be similar to what happens when drivers illegally park in the bus-loading zone.
"As difficult as it has been for everybody -- the people getting tickets, the bus drivers, the passengers -- the silver lining is we are identifying things for future decisions," Krawzoff said.
He said 278 tickets have been handed out since Nov. 28 for bus stop violations. During the same time, 1,200 tickets have been issued for overtime parking.
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