Liz Croes, left, and Jax Larsen, right, compare driver lists in the Alpine Taxi offices in Steamboat Springs on Friday. Alpine Taxi could see a higher demand for service this winter because of staff shortages and cut bus routes at Steamboat Springs Transit.

Photo by Brian Ray

Liz Croes, left, and Jax Larsen, right, compare driver lists in the Alpine Taxi offices in Steamboat Springs on Friday. Alpine Taxi could see a higher demand for service this winter because of staff shortages and cut bus routes at Steamboat Springs Transit.

Bus driver shortage unnerves some

Lodging, resort interests find city transportation issue 'unacceptable'

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— Steamboat's private sector is growing increasingly worried about staff shortages in a public sector category dear to their hearts: transportation.

Earlier this month, Steamboat Springs Transit announced it would cut three traditional winter routes - at least initially - because of an inability to recruit and retain enough bus drivers. The strategy is to cut the least-used routes while maintaining frequency on the heaviest used ones.

Last week, city officials sat down with representatives of Steamboat's lodging and resort interests to discuss a situation that Colorado Resort Services' Kathy Connell called "unacceptable." Connell requested last week's meeting during a recent Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.

"It is a crisis for a lot of people," she said Tuesday.

City Transportation Director George Krawzoff said Tuesday that the initial winter bus schedule will not change as a result of last week's meeting. The principal debate is "order of restoration," he said, meaning which routes will be reinstated first.

"One of the debates that's going on is what are we going to do if we add drivers," Krawzoff said Tuesday.

Steamboat Springs Transit is 12 drivers short of the 40 it wants for the winter season. Last week, there were six additional drivers in training, but Krawzoff stressed there is no guarantee that all - or any - of those drivers would finish or pass the training.

Connell said the Rockies Condominiums is on one of the bus routes that will be cut. She said many people made ski-season reservations to stay there, under the impression that they would be served by the city's free bus service.

"We have to create some kind of transportation for them," she said.

Furthermore, Connell said the Rockies suspended its own shuttle service. That service could cost upwards of $75,000 to start up again, Connell said, which could put a large burden on the complex's less affluent residents.

Krawzoff said it would be difficult to decide which of the three cut routes to restore first. The resort industry's arguments must compete against those of Colorado Mountain College, which also will have its service cut. Krawzoff said the city has provided bus service to CMC for about 20 years, and the school's argument on historical grounds is a compelling one.

Officials with Alpine Taxi said SST's troubles could lead to increased demands on their business.

"On the routes they're cutting, I believe the first thing people will do is call Alpine Taxi," said Bobby O'Toole, the company's director of operations. He said he planned to attend the meeting with city officials. "When you go on vacation, your time is very valuable."

While still looking for a few positions, O'Toole said Alpine Taxi is not having similar problems hiring enough drivers for the winter season. He said the company held a job fair in October and has been padding its schedule in recent months.

"I would say we're probably a little bit ahead of the curve right now," O'Toole said.

O'Toole guessed that the city might have a harder time finding employees because their schedule is not as flexible. Also, although Alpine Taxi does not pay as much as the city, there is the potential to earn tips.

"I think our schedule is a little more flexible," O'Toole said. "Our base salary is not near as much, but our tip potential is huge."

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

stompk 6 years, 5 months ago

Where is the city council on this? We should have plenty of money from all the construction this summer. Buy some hybrid busses, so we get the federal breaks, and pay the drivers a good wage.

Maybe a private company needs to be formed. I know the PUC is a pain. Anyone looking into it?

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Oscar 6 years, 5 months ago

If the private sector (Alpine Taxi) is not having a problem recruiting drivers, perhaps it's time to privatize the city buses? Or perhaps it's time to start charging a small fee for transportation (with of course a price break for students and seniors) that would cover an increased wage for the drivers. If the resort community does indeed believe this situation is "unacceptable", they can certainly help solve it, at least for their own clientel. And of course the Rockies is going to cancel their own costly service if the city was already planning to provide them with free service.

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below_me 6 years, 5 months ago

Krawzoff and the city council have no idea what is going on at SST. City council authorized drivers getting tips. Drivers arent getting them from what I have been told. The pay for new drivers is the same pay for people who have been there for several years. If you want to know whats really going on, ride the bus and talk to the drivers. Oh, and Kathy Connell dumped her transportation problems at the rockies on the city and now she has to take it back? I suppose once you get those city council perks its hard to give them up.

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skitrail 6 years, 5 months ago

Lets put things in perspective. Government bus system, government employees and no government support until recently at the base of the ski area. If the government would stay out of management I will bet the private sector would not let their investments be hurt by such issues. We can only hope the Council doesn't mess up the use of URA funds.

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beentheredonethat 6 years, 5 months ago

of course the Rockies is going to cancel their own costly service if the city was already planning to provide them with free service

Oh, and Kathy Connell dumped her transportation problems at the rockies on the city and now she has to take it back? I suppose once you get those city council perks its hard to give them up.

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Zac Brennan 6 years, 5 months ago

Its about the money, its always about the money. This town and the rest of the Colorado tourism industry hasn't and won't ever recognize that their profits are outrageous and the owners are extremely greedy. You cannot expect people to live and work in this area for peanuts while multimillion dollar homes are being built on the assembly line basis we now have in place.

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below_me 6 years, 5 months ago

Already planning? Yeah right. I ll be the one walking down hilltop in about an hour how about giving me a ride. My service was one of those cancelled.

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summerbird 6 years, 5 months ago

Even with spell check, which I do appreciate, it does not pick up errors in context. You may have rocks for brains and we do live in the Rockies, but I think "rookies on the city council" works better. ;-)

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SJames 6 years, 5 months ago

pt22- I believe you are right about the interview process of the paper. Good journalism starts with a good investigator behind the pen who has the talent to get the paint for the whole picture of things.

To All: The transportation issue has been addresses by the Pilot in some parts. Pulling people in from over seas is one issue. Enough pay for drivers is another. Finding people who can pass a drug test is a big problem, when you do find someone who can fill a position. The cost of living in Steamboat that is aliened with the cost of transportation here is a major deterrent as well! I have driven SST and School busses as well as resort shuttles as a second full-time job along with my day full-time job. Most people today do not have the work ethic or the stamina to do so. I have done this for over 17of my 25+ years in Steamboat, in order to survive. I work 55 to 65 plus hours a week as of current. I'm not even 20-30 or even 40 something anymore! I believe our shortage in transportation has a tiny bit to do with the change in the way people look at work as well. The last 30 years has proven that in this country. The labor shortages in this town continue in many aspects of the Steamboat labor market, not just in transportation. The compaction for labor has been absorbed by construction, that may I add, pay's well at $18.00 to $21.00 an hour to start! Who wants to work for $11.00 or even $15.00 an hour? The 20 something year old who wants to come here and play? Maybe. The guy who wants to stay here and raise a family? Only if he's lived here awhile. For those who live here that don't live on trusts or inherited wealth, the cost of rent and gas is a key element in their survival. I don't see any of those components getting cheaper anytime soon! Immigration? Well, I won't visit that issue. What I do see coming? Well, businesses will have to diversify their staffs to accommodate shortages by working longer hours and extended pay and bonuses, just to survive. And just like in the 80's, management will have to step out of their offices, middle managers will share more work with their workers and so on down the labor ladder, to make it all work out. If the country slides into a recession, the demand for labor will dwindle off hence, the labor shortages may go away. How knows! Thanks for letting me share. So there you have it from someone who's working the trenches of the Steamboat labor market for 25+ years.

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 5 months ago

pt22,

Reporters only talk to those the SP&T allow them to talk to. That has been a consistent pattern with the school district, too, over the years. Reporters never dig into other opinions (teachers and staff and parents). It only talks to the super and a few board members and anyone else mouthing the "party line."

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you Brandon for keeping the bus issue in the forefornt.

CRS does have a problem..... what if a lodger comes in and files a suit against SS and the SST because they rented with the impression that transportation in SS was available?? They could also incude CRS in the suit. This could very well happen. Or many tourists may just go else where to spend their travel dollars.

CMC students registered for the semester thinking there was transportation. SS didn't even try to extend their service until after finals. ( Would cancelling bus service to the HS before the semester was over go over well??)

If Alpine does not have a problem attracting drivers.. what is wrong with SST? Why can't the drivers put out a smalll tip box? ( They do it at Starbucks!) If drivers are helpful and curtious why wouldn't someone put a dollar or two in a tip jar?

In the hopitiality field most workers depend on tips. Steamboat is one big hopitality attraction. From the maids, to servers, babysitters etc... all accept tips. So why not bus drivers too?

The CMC bus does not have to run when the students are back home on vacation.

SS you have a much bigger problem just underneath the surface. You need to look good and long and fgure out how to improve your situation. The $$ will leave and go elsewhere.

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little_liza 6 years, 5 months ago

Pt22- I totally agree with the idea that the local reporters do not actually report the whole story. I am guesssing that all SST employees probably sign a waiver saying that they will not talk to the press in relation to their employeer. Why the reporters can't talk with past employees I am not sure. Personally, I think that if you were to talk to people that used to work for a company, regardless of whom they worked for, there would always be a dark shadow over their opinions. People dont leave a job that they like very often.

As far as Kathy Connels comment on having to provide shuttel service to Rockies..... big deal. We are a town that atracts physically fit people for skiing. I think they can probably cross the street to the meadows parking lot and hop on a ride there. Plus, her company is running help wanted adds constanly maybe that is the rout of her problems.

SJames, I admire your strong work ethic. I was fortunate to be raised with the idea that a job is a career not just a place to waste a third of my life. With most jobs in this town only lasting a season I can understand why most people here have not developed a good work ethic. You get hired on at a place, a hotel for instance, work for a season and then you are laid off. You spend six to eight weeks with absolutely no income and then start the cycle all over again with a new job. Some people are lucky enough to find year round work, or work for a company that offers job attached unemployment (has limits of its own) as for the rest of the work force....... good luck.

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Oswald 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm a CDL driver. I've been driving a bus for five years. Why don't I work for the city? I'm a ski bum, so I signed on with the ski hill (who pays as little as any CDL job here in town). However, there's no reason not to. They pay a competitive wage (including a generous bonus for those who stay the entire winter season, and offer employee housing). I've got two guesses at why they're understaffed. There is an abundance of more lucrative opportunities, many of them in a situation where you don't have to deal with drunks, kids, and the rest of the sometimes unpleasant community relying on a beleaguered system. The real issue, however, isn't touched on in this article. It's pointedly avoided. Development in the area has a much superior bankroll. If the city was able to pay twice what it does now, you'd still make more than that to drive a dump truck. Developers, and those who can afford to move into a new home here will undoubtedly continue to skim what they're interested in off the top, and leave the leftovers for the rest of the city (the workforce and the indigenous population). I'll buy a newspaper subscription when someone has the guts to print articles exploring that topic. Furthermore, while better compensation would attract more city drivers, a community show of appreciation for our hard working bus drivers (along with an an occasional tip) would probably go a long way. I'm not saying they need a hug, or a daily "thank you". Try acting like you have some manners when you get on a bus (especially mine, from the ski hill to the parking lot). Thanks.

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

Alpine Taxi credits its advantage in hiring to allowing tips and flexible hours. That's sensible input from someone involved. Oswald, the actual bus driver in the blog above credits employee housing and long term employment bonuses with his choice of employment. He also notes the lucrative construction industry is tough competition for employees today. That's sensible input from someone involved. I find those comments are the most credible and useful in forming a solution. The SST serves two main functions in my opinion: 1) Getting our workforce to work, and 2) reducing car traffic. Its a proven fact that ridership is much higher with free rides. 2x higher I believe. So adding fees for riding the bus would be a step backward - it would increase car traffic. -Steve Lewis

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Steve Lewis 6 years, 5 months ago

And SJames puts some dues-paid reality there with a workingman's view of the worker shortage and businesses having to stretch this winter. He's probably right. Sure would like to see Kathy Connell's response to Sbvor"s thinking that the private sector should do it all. -Steve Lewis

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 5 months ago

sbvor,

Sounding like a broken record. Holy Sh** when did this whole capitalist/socialist philosophical crap start? Give it up. You're a bore.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 5 months ago

Someone mentioned this last time. Dump the marijuana drug testing and watch the bus drivers line up to drive....

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dave reynolds 6 years, 5 months ago

Like sJAmes i too have worked two sometimes three jobs to survive(20 plus years)...driving shuttles,taxis, and trucks..Luckly I now work for a company that takes care of its employees and am down to one job..with some down sizing of my life style..When I first moved here the bus was 50 cents or a quater can not remember..Money at Alpine is good during the winter and hopefully gotten better during mud and summer season..enjoyed working there Bobby and the gang are great people..drove shuttles 9.00 dollar an hour..most guest don't tip cause they are owners and don't feel they have to as there assoc. dues pays for shuttle service..when I've rode the bus I'm always considerate and polite to the drivers..its a pretty thankless job..I've seen first hand(also heard horror stories)of what those guys go threw...drivers in this town to name one...sJames is right const. trade and driving dump trucks is far better wage and less stressfull than driving bus..I'm thankful for the employeer I have..We have little turn over and recieve a competive wage among other benies..Thank you to those bus drivers and taxi drivers who provide this community with transportation

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 5 months ago

SBvor- When are you gonna show everyone your Social(ist) Security check that you collect? You and I both know for a fact that you get one! ;-)

Why subscribe to something you detest, and then have the "balls" to call others Comrade, huh? You're a riot! LOL!

In fact, since you love the war in Iraq, show us all your ETS papers to prove you have any true military experience. You always ask others to prove you wrong with you year-long vigils: live up to your own words for once instead of just repeating other people's words via weblinks. You might find it refreshing. Do it slowly, though. Wouldn't want to get burnt out too quick.

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Oswald 6 years, 5 months ago

In partial response to sbvor's comment directly following my comment of this morning:

Sir, I am not a pinko, but several qualities of my existence (not my opinions) appear to directly refute your opinions. In addition, as an employee of both SSRC (as a bus driver), and alpine, I appear to be in a more knowledgable position to render a judgment on this issue. I also think that it would be quite revealing if you were to describe where and in what you live (not a street address or your living conditions, just a description of your home, and who owns it).

1) The city currently pays 20%-30% more then either of my employers, not accounting for their end of season bonus. My decision not to work for them (as a public transit driver) is as a result of my past experience in the industry. I agree that city spending could be examined, but does that differentiate the 'boat from any other city?

2) TIPS is an acronym for "to insure proper service". Ask anyone in the service industry about the relationship with that part of their income. "We" are wary of people of "your" demeanor (I intend no insult, and truly hope that you tip those who spend their time taking care of you).

3) I live in employee (SSRC subsidized) housing. I would not be able to afford to live here otherwise. Having recently moved here, I can tell you that there is a total failure of the private sector to provide "affordable" housing. While bueracracy is unfailingly frustrating, I am no more interested in further privatization than I am in buying electricity from Enron.

4) Privatizing the bus system would be a mistake. It is likely that the candidates would be as greedy as their counterparts in the real estate industry. Wal-Mart would not be the "PERFECT" place to sell bus passes. I refuse to shop there, and know many people who share this conviction. I do not expect you to "pay my way" for anything. I do expect you to pay your taxes. If you are interested in how they are spent, consider a political career. Furthermore, if you remain convinced of the the value of privatization, and have health insurance, contract an expensive illness. I expect this experience would change your opinion of "socialism" (to which I make no claims or aspirations).

I hope to see you on my bus, comrade.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 5 months ago

Just a comment for those that think everyone is "paying" for the "Free" bus even if they don't ride it is that there is a Grant that is paying a large amount of the costs of the bus service. To keep this grant there must be a minimum of service which must be maintained.

Solution is to pay the drivers more. Sell the Iron Horse at a profit and pay drivers more. They can then pick where they live, choose who they live with and possibly get their own mortgage with home ownership.

To live at Iron Horse you must be single and have a roommate that is not of your picking. What will the city do when there are problems such as fights and crimes at the Iron Horse? What about the lawsuits from any tenant that feels there was not enough security at the place to stop crime? What do they do when they terminate a employee?? Does he/she have to move out the same day? or can they just not leave and cause other legal problems.

Take the money the city budgets for maintaining the Iron Horse and supplementing the rent and divide it between the employees. It will be a real nice raise, there will be LOTS of job applicants and the city will not have the nightmare of being a landlord.

Has anyone had a rental unit?? What a pain to deal with all the problems renters can potentially bring

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Oswald 6 years, 5 months ago

Afterthoughts: The most important issue discussed in these numerous comments is the quality of journalism. As evidenced by my first comment, the community could make this job much more attractive in two ways. One, better wages (the current pay is competitive, compared to similar jobs statewide), and two, being polite while on the bus (and not only to the driver). I really hope that it isn't totally unreasonable to issue a call for a segment of the community who shares an important and "free" service to act in a socially acceptable (not socialist), respectful, and possibly even (gasp) courteous manner.

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Neil O'Keeffe 6 years, 5 months ago

Blah, Blah, Blah. The real answer Alpine can get employees and SST can't. DRUG TESTING. Ask any driver. Believe!

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id04sp 6 years, 5 months ago

Anybody who thinks Ski Corp or any other business in town is making "outrageous profits" is sadly misinformed. You don't know the cost of doing business. You're missing the true, underlying costs that people who have not run a business don't ever learn about.

The only people making much money are the ones selling land for less than they paid. Truly profitable businesses would be in high demand from outsiders wanting to buy their way into a job, yet you don't hear of many businesses being sold for a profit.

Sales tax projections are obviously not high enough to allow the City to pay drivers a higher wage. That's the controlling factor.

Anyone who actually depends on SST to get back and forth to their job should see the handwriting on the wall and go elsewhere, pronto, before their job disappears. The economic outlook for service workers and small tourist-dependent businesses is not good, and the SST driver issue is just one more symptom of the underlying disease.

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RoxyDad 6 years, 5 months ago

Where are the Bus Schedules !!!

Schedule Changed today with no schedules on the website to be downloaded.

If they can't supply a schedule how do they run a bus line?

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe it is not all about drug testing? Could flexible schedule also be part of it??

Maybe someone from the City should respond to some of these questions.

Looking to buy a car.... any ideas? Must get to school and work. Both routes were canceled. Thanks!

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Gen 6 years, 5 months ago

Dear Mr Sbvor or shall we call you Mr Boar... It is people like you who have disgraced the face of this nation since we made such a beautiful one for ourselves at the end of the second World War. Do you, who seems like a man of many years remember what it was that the world loved so much about us? I do believe it was our kindness, our generosity, and our ability to help those who were less fortunate and in great need. It is people like you with your myopia and lack of progressive thinking who make me nihilistic and care not for the people of the world. I bet you even call yourself a Christian. Any form of government who takes care of its population is more likely to have a population who cares to support its government, i.e. pay taxes, vote, and participate in what I would like to consider a healthy society. Our federal government currently would rather see its population poor, ignorant, and unhealthy, therefore making them easier to control, and keeping the profits in the private sector continually rising. The fact that Steamboat Springs offers free transportation is proof that this community does not uphold all the standards of the federal government. Not only is free transportation "socialist" it is also preventative....i.e. less traffic, less pollution, less car accidents, less deaths... Yes it is good to live in a capitalist society. However one that does not provide for those who have not, is not what the greatest statesmen of this country worked hard to provide.
As the holiday season rolls around I hope that you review with yourself what it is all about, generosity, kindness, compassion...and on and on... As for this bus scandal...I suppose that there is more than one way to skin this cat...whether it be capitalist or socialist...there is and always will be money involved. Perhaps the answer is offering benefits...for as Oswald said, a trip to the private medical sector is the most frightening for the underprivileged of this community and this country, at 15 dollars an hour with housing subsidized I still couldn't afford a trip to the ER, how bout you? Get it together Mr Boar, would you rather some drunk who according to you should pay for the public transportation drive his car to the bar, and kill someone you love on the way home? (Assuming that is, you are capable of love.) Sincerely your Comrade

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Oswald 6 years, 5 months ago

sbvor,

another reply,

1) I specified that my housing is subsidized by SSRC specifically to avoid the confusion you appear to suffer from.

2) Living on a limited income, I examined the possibilities, and unfortunately, I definitely could not find comparable quality of housing in the unsubsidized private sector.

3) I have suggested not that development should be limited, but that it should be held to a standard that reflects and has a concern for the entire population of the area. Do second homeowners and tourists deserve recognition?

4) Not accounting for tips, considering bonuses, the city still pays 20%+ more than SSRC, and 40%+ more than alpine. Factoring for experience and credentials, you can check this against the newspaper employment ads.

5) Thank you for your welcome to the community (I have lived in Colorado nearly my entire life). Having received more gracious welcomes, I think I'll choose not to be offended. I have no inhibitions about my tax dollars funding this transit system (which enjoys a great reputation statewide), or "socialist housing" (I rather enjoy thinking that part of my taxes go to better my fellow citizens' quality of life). Oversized or second homes homes do alot more to drive up the cost of housing, and have many other negative effects on the working class of a city. While I am not by any means an expert on the topic, I have been driven out of more than one community (and deprived the privilege, somewhat indirectly, of buying a home) by second homeowners.

Furthermore, you and rokboat are both correct. Employers are only required to drug test CDL drivers (the distinction being a driver who carries more than 14 passengers, or is a full time, driver only employee), as per state and federal law. There is no requirement to test part time drivers carrying less than 15 passengers.

P.S. - In my professional experience (in areas I would deem more aggressive and/or drunk), I have found that the most effective way to effect or enhance a rider's behavior is a calm, direct, polite request.

I'd like to think that I am literate enough not to be fooled by pretty words or poorly applied jargon (hopefully, as evidenced by my posts here).

I will ask again, what is your housing situation? Can you purport to have empathy OR sympathy for the groups you would deprive of assistance?

I am encouraged by the level of community involvement shown in this forum.

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bubba 6 years, 5 months ago

OK, I don't have too much to offer to this, except-

I ride the bus 5 days a week, and say thanks to my driver every time, I just thought that's what people did.

And just to point out one thing, Oswald- 'TIPS' as an acronym for 'To Insure Proper Service...' I haven't heard that before, but if it were grammatically correct, it would be TEPS- I think you are trying to use the word ENSURE, not INSURE, they mean two different things, although are often used interchangeably.

And sbvor, while I don't always agree with your rants, I, too am a capitalist, and your image will be very tarnished in my mind if Kielbasa's allegations are true.

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Gen 6 years, 5 months ago

As Oswald has challenged Mr Boar to demonstrate some ability for empathy or sympathy for the demographic in question, I too challenge pt 22.

I hope that those in the world under the age of five grow up in a more educated, compassionate, generous, and understanding atmosphere than the one we live in today. (including those who really have no business seeking higher education) My call for generosity, kindness, and compassion is by no means inspired by mental blindness brought on by any form of hatred. It appears there is never a lack of misunderstanding.

And yes Mr Boar you have affected me, you and pt 22, and everyone else from the Dali Lama, to Hitler, to Chairman Mao, and my mother. It is the beauty of being a human, to be part of the race, and to care, or not too...and to be affected or not. Thank you for inspiring my thoughts this evening.

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Oswald 6 years, 5 months ago

Bubba, thank you for your interest in grammatical correctness. As a nerd, I share your campaign. However, I stand by my statement. The TIPS acronym, probably about 110 years old, was originally British. There are many usage differences between American English, and that of merry ol' England. From my Oxford Concise English Dictionary (under the entry for insure): "For the general senses, insure and ensure are often interchangeable, but insure tends to be more common in US English.

Thanks for being a well behaved and polite rider. Almost often enough, that is just what people do.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 5 months ago

OK How do you fix this problem? How does SS get it's bus routes back? How does SS get more bus drivers? What will it take? Stop with all the pinko comments......there are problems here that need to be addressed. Not discounted.

Tourists will go elsewhere next year if this problem is not solved. Disgruntled tourists go home and tell 10 people they had a bad time, who will each tell 10 more about the person they know who... This will multiply and become a big headache that SS will have to live down in the future.

Tourists spend money in SS. They pay for lodging, Food, equipment, etc..... If your business depends on income from outsiders.... be ready to go bankrupt. No tourists.. no income.

This really is not an US vs Them issue. If you like living and working here there needs to be change. Tourists and year-rounders need to get along. Work together.

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xozboater 6 years, 5 months ago

How times change. As a resident of Steamboat for a couple of winters in the mid 80's I had a ball and the charm of the place pulled me back again in the early 90's for a month of skiing. Not much had changed in that period but it seems the place I knew hardly exists anymore. I'd catch the bus from downtown daily to work or to ski. I seem to remember the fare was 25 or maybe 50 cents. Occaisionally I would not have anything smaller than a dollar so I'd pay a buck, apologize to the driver and still thought it was good value! (even more so when I smartened up and bought monthly passes---which I still have!) This current bus driver shortage and the tensions it seems to be creating sadden me greatly. If it sounds as though I'm re- living past glories at the expense of todays realities then maybe there is something wrong with todays realities! Does anyone else find it depressing and just a tad disturbing that the apparent difficulty in passing a drug screen seems to have such a strong effect on the ability to find staff? I have heard this said about other resort communities as well. Are we truly scraping the bottom of the barrel to find desirable employees? I know this is coming from somebody who has not been to Steamboat for years but this story touched a nerve and I felt I had to contribute. I'll also miss the Tugboat and the other establishments in Ski Time Square--but thats another story.

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Aaron Murphy 6 years, 5 months ago

Straight from a current SST drivers brain to your web blog!

First of all-- the route cuts are temporary. It said so in the article, and, as a driver, I can assure you that's not just SP&T telling you what you want to hear. There is another training class starting today, ten drivers strong, and when they complete training, it should allow the auxiliary routes (Yellow Line, Purple Line, and Hilltop Connector) to be brought back. The current schedule is designated a "Pre-Peak Winter" schedule, and the goal is to bring back a schedule similar to last winter's as soon as possible.

Secondly-- Comparing the service provided by Alpine Taxi to the service provided by SST is like comparing apples to oranges. Taxi provides a high level, door-to-door service, charges a significant fare, and encourages its drivers to provide a higher level of service (i.e. baggage service, holding open doors, etc) to earn tips. SST provides tax and grant funded public transportation. The service will get many people within walking distance from their destination, services 6000-10,000 passenger trips per day (and up to 200 at once), does not charge a fee to ride (I understand the argument that it is not a "free" bus, but you can't argue that it is in fact a "fare-free" bus), and, in order to function efficiently, the driver provides a lower level of customer service than a taxi. One of the main reasons Taxi is sufficiently staffed and SST is not are these differences. To some, one job is more appealing than the other.

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Aaron Murphy 6 years, 5 months ago

Third-- SST can't eliminate the drug testing. It is required by law. And besides-- do you really want someone who is ability impaired operating a 10,000lb. vehicle that either you are a passenger on, or you share the road with? Don't get me wrong-- I'm not opposed to freedom of choice, and whatever lifestyle you choose, more power to you. But, I personally wouldn't want to share the road with someone driving a 35 foot, 10,000lb, 100+ passenger carrying bus while he or she is under the influence.

Fourth-- One issue here that seems to have been overlooked is growth. Our town's lodging capacity is growing at an ever-increasing rate. The trouble is, the growth of the local workforce isn't increasing at a rate that can keep up. Check the want-ads in the SP&T any given day-- even during mud & shoulder seasons. You'll easily find one full page, during the slowest times of the year. There is a shortage of workers in this town. It becomes an employees market rather than an employers market, and those businesses which can offer the best benefits (ski passes, competitive wages, insurance, flexible hours, bonuses) draw in the majority of the workforce. We turn to immigrant workers (legal and otherwise), we turn to the under-qualified, and yet many businesses still fall short (SST included). The result is that in order to account for the shortages of staff, the level of service declines. Our town is outgrowing our workforce at an alarming rate, and something needs to be done.

Thank you for your time.

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stompk 6 years, 5 months ago

Steamboat is waking up like never before.

Sbvor and others.Your time is not wasted.

I appreciate it. Thanks.

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Oswald 6 years, 4 months ago

Sbvor, again you are confused.

1) I suspect your salt shaker is almost empty.

2) I receive no health care. I receive no bonus. I stand by my statements. Again, I appear to be in a slightly more informed position to comment.

3) You appear again, to have ignored the facts and created your own. The city, and no one else is paying the Approx $1500 end of season bonus.

This space is for discussion of the above article and related issues. I guess we should probably try not to deviate from that. It is fun to argue.

Driver272, thank you for an informed opinion from the inside, and a reminder of the poorly reported facts. Thanks for doing your job. I hope I have not maligned SST, you, or any of your coworkers.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 4 months ago

CAR POOL anyone??

Maybe there can be parking spots allocated for those who Car Pool in steamboat? Kinda like a reward? ( In LA they have car pool lanes on the highway) But parking in certain areas that are primo near the handicap spots might be very attractive to locals??? yes!

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twostroketerror 6 years, 4 months ago

In most ski towns, you now have to pay to park on the street. Maybe the city could implement this to both offset the cost of wages for drivers, and motivate folks to use the bus. Also the drug-testing guy was right. Remember when the Mtn started testing and suddenly there were no lifties? I know plenty of heads who would drive the bus, and yes, I know thats wrong, immoral and irresponsible.

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bubba 6 years, 4 months ago

mtnsmith, the gondola, however nice it would be, is a dumb idea. Do you know how much one costs? A high-speed gondola (which would probably get people from steamboat 2 to downtown Much slower than a bus would) would cost well over 10 Million dollars. If you figure a bus costs, what? 250k, you could buy a dozen new buses and still have 7 million to pay drivers with. And, incidentally, lift operators make less than bus drivers, so how are we going to staff those positions? more free housing? stealing lifties from the ski area? Also, 10 million would be a ballpark figure for the kind of gondola with a start and an end, so unless you are going to have a fleet of buses to shuttle people to and from the ends of this thing, you'll need to add more stops, which isn't just a platform, you need another haul rope, motor, and a de-rope system for either end, so really, two stops probably costs about 75% of gondola number 1, the savings just being from less carriers needed. (but then without more carriers, the capacity is limited, so my bet is that the savings wouldn't be that great)

And still, you only have 3 choices of where to get on and off, so unless you happen to live next to one of them, you're still driving.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 4 months ago

The gondola is a neat idea. Probably wouldn't work in SS situation. But it is nice to see that other areas have inovative ideas.

I still think Car Pools are in the future.

Maybe businesses not only should supply housing, but a shuttle for their employees. That would cut down on the need for public transportation.

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Brian Smith 6 years, 4 months ago

Bubba,

Sorry, I am glad that we have an expert at how much Gondola's cost blogging. I don't make these things, I just throw out ideas. How much energy would we save over the lifespan of a Gondola as oppose to buses and new roads to support the 2000 houses at the 700? I like the buses but I still see more people driving cars than riding the bus.

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housepoor 6 years, 4 months ago

Pay to park, especially if citycounty employees were subject to it would greatly reduce the traffic downtown. My guess is that the transit center parking lot is not big enough to accommodate the # of people who would begin utilizing it. Is the lot behind the cantina owned by the city? If not the owner should look into turning it into pay parking.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 4 months ago

We don't have parking structures that other ski towns have. Aspen has the main one downtown that alleviated most of their parking problems. What about having one at the Wells Fargo lot? That is a pretty convenient location. Plus it would keep people, presumably coming from the mountain, from getting into downtown because they could park there. Some other thoughts: How about HOV lanes? I am sure that would get some carpooling started. How about park and ride lots in Hayden or Steamboat II/Heritage Park/Silver Spur? What about a light rail system? In Maui they have traffic problems during rush hour and really no land to expand on. Maui practices "contra flow" traffic situations during rush hour where a four lane street has three lanes going in the main direction of flow and one lane going in the opposite direction. We could do that through downtown although it might be a real mess in the winter when all the cones get knocked over by the plow trucks!

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dave reynolds 6 years, 4 months ago

twostroke great idea..heads cann't hold lift op jobs so what on earth makes you think they can drive a bus...but we can have non reefer buses and reefer buses..they can sell thier weed to riders thus elimanating the need for end of season bonuses..lets not forget the need for circulating fans to distribute the smoke for one hitters cause we all know they have to take a hit to function

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Jason Miller 6 years, 4 months ago

One i ride a bike.Beside being good for your health and enviroment.I dont have to in the snow an hour for a bus.Secondly i think the DRUG TESTING is a good thing.I do not want some pothead on the street drive one of those big busses.

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stompk 6 years, 4 months ago

How about a donation system on the busses. Riders would simply be asked to donate to the bus system.

I think we'd be surprised how much a group of drunk tourists would donate for a warm bus ride.

Maybe the drivers could pool the donations, give 10% to a local good cause, to keep it charitable, and split the rest at the end of the shift.

Just some ideas.

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bubba 6 years, 4 months ago

OK, I am going to disregard the reefer madness discussion here, and go back to the gondola- sorry, mtnsmith, I read my post, and apologize it sounded so rude, I didn't mean it to be that way, and probably should have said 'inefficient' instead of 'dumb.'

Anyway, the gondola very will may have a lower energy cost over a long time, compared to buses, except buses are more flexible- scalable, meaning they can run less in periods of low demand, and they can alter their path, if demand warrants. One other consideration is that the gondola needs a relatively straight line to run in (it is very costly to put a corner in, and would limit the speed of the thing), and there isn't really a straight line where this needs to go, especially not that the city owns.

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Aaron Murphy 6 years, 4 months ago

Lots of great ideas on here. The problem is, writing something down on these forums doesn't work toward solving the problem.

housepoor-- paid parking downtown is a great idea. It reduces traffic and increases the chance that someone will park in a free location and use the bus. Call, write, or talk to your city councilperson and make the argument.

steamboatwannabe-- car pools are great, but only if you can create an incentive for people to use them. Maybe HOV lanes west of town? Car pool only parking-- great idea, if you can enforce it. Or maybe city-subsidized benefits for businesses to encourage their employees to carpool? I'm not sure there is an easy solution, but please, bring your ideas to your councilperson.

RoxyDad-- From what I understand, the purchase of the Iron Horse can't be reversed. Unfortunately, that is a case of the new council having to pick up the messes of the old council. However, by speaking to your councilperson, you can help to prevent new messes from being made, and to address the issues which matter most to you.

I know we don't always agree with the decisions our council makes, but the best way to influence those decisions is through communication. Take your ideas to your councilperson. They are the community's voice on the important issues, but if they don't know where their community stands, how can they effectively represent us? Sometimes things still won't go the way you've hoped, but at least you'll know you voiced your opinion and tried to make positive change.

Thank you again for your time.

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steamberg 6 years, 4 months ago

FYI:The bus used to cost 50 cents to the rider quite a few years ago. I think that a seasonal bus pass at $10 is not out of line. The riders without a pass could pay 25 cents and a sign could be posted that the bus driver does not give change. (Kathy Connell could buy passes for their guests at the Rockies). This minimal dollar amount should add up to some extra income for the drivers. However, even with more pay I would not want to be driving a bus in icy/snowy conditions with a busload of intoxicated persons. It's not fun as a rider to witness this much less be the one responsible for all riders on the bus. How many of you have been on a bus late night?

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agentofchange 6 years, 4 months ago

Ok, I've held off till now... 1) Get rid off the drug tests. This is not a 747, it's a "low speed bus". Good supervisors can control the situation.

2) Allow tips. And not "shift-pooled" tips. Whatever is in the Drivers can is hers/his, at the end of his shift.

3) Alpine Taxi NEEDS competition. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about. I was the manager of Steamboat Taxi way back when. I was involved, and around when Alpine was started. I have witnessed Alpine drivers not even opening doors for riders. Low standards of service for our only taxi service. They need competition, and badly. You see they are regulated by the PUC. We now have the lowest "service level" in the taxi business - ever! I know.

So people City of Steamburg Falls, get real. Write to the PUC, ALPINE NEEDS A KICK IN THE ARSH, and let the Bus Divers get TIPS. Lose the drug test, as I've said before our local Hospital does not even use one. Go figure.

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agentofchange 6 years, 4 months ago

drivers, not divers, sorry I'm about to leave for Hawaii. What a Country! Bless all of you.

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Aaron Murphy 6 years, 4 months ago

sbvor-- THANK YOU!!!

agentofchange-- While I agree that a good supervisor should be able to tell the difference between someone who smoked a joint on the way into work and someone who didn't, it is unfair to place that level of responsibility in their hands. What if there is a serious accident, someone gets badly hurt, or worse, killed? Should the supervisor lose his or her job even after the driver fails a post-accident drug screen-- for smoking a bowl in-between loops? Part of this job is being able to work without being constantly under direct supervision, and the pre-employment drug screen (besides being required by law) allows the supervisors to know what kind of lifestyle choices someone makes-- before they're out on the road, putting their lives, and the lives of hundreds of other people at risk.

Again, I'm not opposed to people smoking pot, it is a lifestyle choice, and it isn't my business to say yes or no on that. But I do know I don't want to share the road with someone driving a 10,000lb, 100+passenger vehicle when they are under the influence. The laws are in place for a reason, and I am grateful for them.

Thank you for your time.

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agentofchange 6 years, 4 months ago

OK Guys, now you think I'm in favor of having "crazed" bus drivers on pot. Doesn't take much to trip your trigger SVBOR. Perhaps some doggy downers are in order. Hope you never have to go to the local Hospital. No "drug tests" done there, and they cut on people.

If it is against the law not to test for "drugs" for the drivers, so be it, but you're the expert SVBOR, not me. I'm just watching the situation and wondering why there is an employment problem with SST. It's probably more than just a wage issue. Just a thought.

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xozboater 6 years, 4 months ago

Guys! How hard can it be to NOT go to work stoned? If someone needs it that much they need to ask themselves some hard questions (and not be driving ANY vehicle!) Just a thought. Hey, I sound like my parents!

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canudigit 6 years, 4 months ago

agent of change- when was the last time you worked at the hospital? Every new hire gets a pre-employment drug screen. AND from what I have read in some other threads, the training and schedule for working for SST is not flexible. I don't know whether that is true or not but after you have your interview there let us all know... Also, to drive for Alpine Taxi you do not need a CDL- to drive for the SST you do. Some of the vehicles at Alpine taxi need a CDL but, the vans you see around town do not because they are less than 15 passengers. I think that is why Alpine taxi can hire drivers easier than SST.

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little_liza 6 years, 4 months ago

canudigit- No I do not work at the hospital, but my father did recently, as well as many of my friends. No one I know took a pre-employment drug test. Additionally, I know a nurse that has a very big substance abuse problem. This person has never been tested, even when prescriptions were missing during their shift.

As far as Alpine Taxi, YES they need competition. The amount of times that they have not acted professionally that I know of are huge.

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agentofchange 6 years, 4 months ago

canudidit, l do not work at the Hospital, however I know that the wonderfully talented Medical staff that we all enjoy at YVMC would not have the same faces if "Drug Testing" programs were enforced there. Same goes for Ski Corp, and many other organizations.

I was the person who stood before the Colorado PUC and represented the local Taxi company (prior to Alpine being around) and got "flat rates" from the airport approved. I know from where I speak. When I ran the Taxi Co., EVERYONE who drove HAD to have a CDL. It just makes sense.

Something is wrong over @ SST. Yes, the Drivers need more $$, but something tells me, there is something amiss.

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STEMBOATwannabe 6 years, 4 months ago

Hello ???????? Something really big is missing in the bus driver problem. It is not about wages or drug testing.

There is an overall problem getting workers that go from area to area to work short term. Where are they??? Why are they some places and not in Steamboat?

Car pooling would help some. Paid parking lots would help. *Tips for Drivers would help.....

There are underlying problems that need to be addressed by the good folks who run our city. Do they ever read some of these posts??? Does someone send it to their council person? (Stompk???)

Thanks have a great Winter!

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