Steamboat Springs Three city bus routes that were cut because of a shortage of drivers will be restored on a limited basis later this month.
Transportation Director George Krawzoff confirmed Thursday that the Yellow, Hilltop and Purple bus routes will come online Dec. 23 after the graduation of eight recruit drivers from bus-driver training. Steamboat Springs Transit still is short 10 drivers, however, and the three lightly used routes will run only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"We're catching up on this," Krawzoff said.
The Purple Line may be restored a couple days earlier than the other two routes, Krawzoff said, because of the amount of vacation properties it services.
"They're so wrapped up in reservations at that time," Krawzoff said.
At a Steamboat Springs City Council meeting Tuesday, Kathy Connell of Colorado Resort Services praised the city for restoring bus service to the Purple Line and finding "a different way to skin a cat." Colorado Resort Services manages properties on the Purple Line, including The Rockies Condominiums.
Connell was involved in discussions between resort executives and city staff about how to fix bus route cuts that she called "unacceptable." Connell noted at the City Council meeting that more than 33,000 people rode the Purple Line last winter.
Krawzoff's strategy with the driver shortage has been to maintain service on the heaviest-used routes. The Red Line, for example, had more than 340,000 passengers last year with a cost per passenger to the city of $1.48. The cost per passenger on the Purple Line last winter was $4.25.
Steamboat Springs Transit's gains have been offset by the loss of two full-time drivers, a mechanic and two recruits. Reasons for leaving included the lack of a pay differential between new and returning drivers, better-paying jobs, the cost of housing and the drug test requirement.
"The problem has both ends," Krawzoff said.