Steamboat Springs' public works department has yet to fill four snowplow driver positions. City Manager Alan Lanning called the snowplow positions "critical."

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Steamboat Springs' public works department has yet to fill four snowplow driver positions. City Manager Alan Lanning called the snowplow positions "critical."

City staff shortages widespread

Manager: Four empty snowplow driver positions 'critical'

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— City staff shortages that will force a reduction in bus service this winter are being felt in other city departments as well.

In addition to the transportation department's shortage of 13 bus drivers, Steamboat Springs' public works department has yet to fill four snowplow driver positions. City Manager Alan Lanning called the snowplow positions "critical."

"Maybe I'll learn how to go out and drive a snowplow," he joked Wednesday.

Lanning noted that there are recruiting difficulties citywide and said that many efforts to cure the problem - such as packaging winter seasonal positions with summer ones - have been unsuccessful.

"We're going to leave no stone unturned here to make this work," Lanning said.

Lanning said a shortage of snowplow drivers will not leave Steamboat residents snowed in this winter.

"We will plow all the streets," he said. "We're working hard to make sure we don't decrease any service levels."

Public Works Director Jim Weber reiterated that streets won't be cut from snowplow service. If need be, he said, current city drivers will work overtime to provide snowplow service. Snowplow operators make $18.20 an hour.

"If we're not fully staffed, they will be putting in longer hours," Weber said. In a statement contradictory to Lanning's, Weber acknowledged that while all city streets will be plowed, frequency of service could take a hit.

Unlike public works, the city's transportation department can't cure a staff shortage by having drivers work overtime.

"If there's not a body to run the bus, that route is cut," Transportation Director George Krawzoff said. "This will continue until we're able to add staff."

Krawzoff has finalized his plan for curtailing winter bus service in light of the driver shortage. Winter service will begin Nov. 25, one week later than normal. Three traditional winter routes will be cut on that date. Those routes include the yellow line, to Old Town and Colorado Mountain College; the Hilltop Connector line; and the purple line, to The Rockies Condominiums and Yampa Valley Medical Center. Service and frequency will be maintained on downtown and mountain area routes.

Krawzoff said the strategy is to maintain frequency on the most heavily used routes, which is more efficient than spreading the cuts out across many routes. Krawzoff noted that it costs the city about $1.25 a passenger to run its free bus service on the main lines, while it costs about $8 a passenger - due to less use - on the routes that are being cut.

Last winter, 11,599 people rode the yellow line while 341,535 people rode the red/green line, which runs from west Steamboat through downtown to the mountain area.

"I know we run the danger of appearing to run the service for tourists instead of locals, but that's not the intention," Krawzoff said. "There's a big efficiency difference."

CMC administrators are concerned about their service being nixed.

"It will have an impact," Campus Dean Kerry Hart said. "But we understand the position the city is in, and we're just going to have to work around it."

Hart said parents of CMC students have appreciated that their children can get downtown and to Steamboat Ski Area without the need for an automobile on campus. He also noted that many CMC students have jobs.

"A number of our students work in the community, so it's also going to have an impact on local businesses," Hart said.

Krawzoff said the nearest bus stop to CMC will be at Lincoln Avenue and 11th Street.

"It's a walk," he said.

Hart said it's not an unreasonable distance, but noted the steep hills between CMC and Lincoln Avenue, icy winter conditions and the lack of sidewalks on 12th Street. Hart said the school is in the early stages of collecting data to see how many students will be affected and how those without automobiles might be accommodated.

Krawzoff said these are "sad and difficult times for bus service," especially considering ridership is up 25 percent so far this year.

"It's very disturbing to be cutting service at the same time," Krawzoff said.

Comments

another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

Wages are the issue. The city is not competative.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you Steamboat As a parent of a student at CMC thank you for the consideration that the semester is not over in November. How will students finish the semester and finals??

Will we have to send them back to steamboat after Thanks giving with a car? Are you ready for the parking issue and the traffic problems??

Thank you

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 5 months ago

Steamboatwannabe: has your CMC student applied for a city job to help out? Have you? Even part-time?

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bcpow 6 years, 5 months ago

How about a 10 minute walk from CMC so junior can go ride on a powder day. The danger isn't from the icy conditions, it's from their baggy pants they might trip on.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 5 months ago

I know someone attending the city bus driver training and from what I have heard, sounds like the trainer needs a class in interpersonal relationships. No wonder they can't keep drivers around with old crusties like that person running the show!

Would the city be able to get staff if they hired part time workers? Seems like all the jobs are full time. A part time worker is better than no one!

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Scott Wedel 6 years, 5 months ago

Well, this is what happens when the city allows mobile home parks to be destroyed without demanding the developer build a replacement. And they had Riverwalk over a barrel because the city held easements and rights of way that was absolutely essential to the developer.

And does the $18.20 employee want to stay in a room at Iron Horse? Can't blame this on housing. I think pay and working conditions is why they have trouble attracting employees.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Obviously the problem with bus drivers and snow plow operators is just the tip of the iceberg in Steamboat. What other problems are just below the surface?

I live out of state. yes, my child is a CMC student, taking a full load of classes and works the season at a condo rental service. We pay a lot for tuition with our out of state status.

My child lives off campus as the dorms were full and there were no other alternatives. Living at the campus would have been ideal. Our alternative was to live off campus and use the SST. Which has been great.

Walking the hill in good weather should not be a problem. In icy conditions it could be hazardous. I would not like to see any student get hurt.

I would gladly pay for the public transportation. That has not been offered as an option. There just aren't enough drivers to continue service.

The bus service is being discontinued prior to the end of the semester. There will be about four weeks of classes and finals without the bus transportation. It is hard enough to get students to class without one more obstacle. Living off campus without a car will not be as attractive to future students. This could cause other problems down the road - parking, extra vehicals on SS streets, etc...

Steamboat residents, be careful, there could be more problems ahead..........

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

wanna, the campus is all of four blocks from Lincoln Ave. Students riding the bus will have to allow an extra 10 minutes to walk.

Scott, Riverwalk contributed 900K for affordable housing and that was before the ordinances were passed. The money was used to buy the fish creek park. There are plenty of things to criticize in town, but you are mistaken on this one.

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SteamboatsSinking 6 years, 5 months ago

I bet if you offered ski passes you'd fill those jobs a bit quicker.

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agentofchange 6 years, 5 months ago

Right on Brother another_local! First of all, the "Pretty City" plows to damn much to begin with. How many times have you seen the trucks out there just "glazing" the surface (over and over). They make it more icy than it needs to be. A "cut back" in that department IS in order.

As far as the Bus is concerned, pay less attention to whether the core trail is plowed, and pay more $$ to the bus drivers. Get rid of the stupid drug tests also. Check them out before a shift, this is not rocket science, and it's a city bus, not a 747. I know that will krinkle some of your knickers but they don't use the "drug tests" @ YVMC , and for good reason. Good supervisors can tell what's going on. Maybe that's the problem. Just a thought.

Again, I will state it... The new Counsel should fire Alan Lanning, this guy is a joke.

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Routty2007 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd like to know the liability issues for CMC students walking up to the campus on the road without sidewalks. If a driver hits a person in the road who is at fault. This service is needed for the students.

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Routty2007 6 years, 5 months ago

Once touted as one of the BEST bus systems in a recent SKI magazine has now lost it luster due to poor hiring and management practices. Sorry G. Krawzoff...H2 workers should have been delayed and not just from Australia. How about Mexico or other areas like Flint, MI (16% unemployment)?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Obviously pay in the $15/hour range and drug testing is not attracting persons to SS to work as bus drivers. Even the lure of inexpensive housing is not enough to draw persons to work for the season. The City needs to work on this ASAP. Maybe a substancial bonus at the end of the season would help. The repercussions of ignoring this problem could cause critical problems in many areas of SS.

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