Council talks transportation

Adding bus routes among ideas to reduce congestion

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City Council members have been listening to residents and business owners, and they want to answer back.

The council met with city management staff Thursday to discuss the 2005 community survey and how it should direct the council's future goals. Results from the survey, conducted by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, were released in late September.

In the four-page survey, 1,083 voters, residents and business owners answered 127 questions. The survey also included a four-section graph cross-ranking the importance of certain services and how the city is performing in those categories. Twelve "important" services ranked well, and three ranked low: affordable housing, traffic and transportation infrastructure.

Discussion on Thursday focused on transportation because city officials already are working on creating citywide regulations with the intention of promoting affordable housing.

First, officials tried to determine the difference between traffic and transportation infrastructure. Council member Paul Strong said survey respondents probably saw the two as the same problem.

"They see so many cars, and they think we don't have enough infrastructure to handle them," Strong said.

City Manager Paul Hughes asked officials whether they would rather reduce traffic or accommodate it better.

Council member Towny And--erson said getting people to change from driving to taking public transportation is a long-term goal because it demands a change in behaviors.

"People will use the most convenient form of transportation," Anderson said. "Cars are overwhelmingly the most convenient."

City officials should work to reduce traffic and accommodate it better, council member Steve Ivancie said.

"This is a destination resort. People drive here, and people like their cars," Ivancie said. "We're stuck with accommodating it for the time being."

Council member Loui Anto--nucci said that city officials have larger issues to consider. People like construction workers need their cars, he said, and Steamboat parents like to drive their children to school. Many Steamboat residents also can get from home to work in about five minutes.

Anderson and Antonucci also pointed out that the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which is under an update process, is intended to bring more than 2,000 living units to the area west of town. That's a problem that council members should start working on now, Antonucci said.

According to a late 1990s survey, Hughes said, residents take six one-mile driving trips per day in the summer. Council members said that they would like to reduce those trips.

Antonucci suggested that the city have an "alternate transportation day" in the summer, when people are more willing to walk or bike. The bus could hit some additional pick-up spots, and employers could be extra-forgiving if employees who tried alternate transportation were a little late to work.

"It's the perfect setup for a victory," Antonucci said.

Council members also discussed ways to improve service provided by Steamboat Springs Transit, which runs the public buses.

Transit officials' ability to add routes is hampered by a lack of drivers and funding, said George Krawzoff, the city's director of transportation services. The city has received requests to add service to Heritage Park and Steamboat II, but tests have shown that those routes aren't the most productive, Krawzoff said.

Routes transit officials would like to add include Fish Creek Falls, north of Mount Werner and the hospital.

City officials also said they were interested in trying a downtown bus route that would provide frequent trips along Lincoln Avenue from opposite sides of town.

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