Summer bus schedule
Main Line: Service on the Main Line will begin from the Steamboat Campground at 6:32 a.m., from Walton Pond at 6:37 a.m. and from Central Park Plaza (westbound) at 6:36 a.m. This 20-minute service will continue until 11 p.m. with the last bus departing the Stock Bridge Transit Center at 10 p.m.
On-call: Service will combine the Yellow Line, the Hilltop Connector and Yampa Valley Medical Center service. Passengers can call the driver directly at 846-1279. On-call service will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Regional: Buses depart Craig at 5:50 a.m. and 6:50 a.m. Buses depart Steamboat at 4:40 p.m. and 5:40 p.m.
Source: Steamboat Springs Transit
Steamboat Springs The city's Hilltop Connector bus route will become an on-call service under a new bus schedule that takes effect Monday.
City officials say the Hilltop change, reduced hours and more full-time drivers are necessary to maintain a consistent spring-through-fall schedule and to increase frequency on bus routes that service the U.S. Highway 40 corridor and mountain area. In years past, Steamboat Springs Transit's bus schedule has changed every season.
"Now people who use the bus have to make an adjustment twice a year, as opposed to four times a year," Transit Operations Manager Jonathon Flint said.
Also in years past, Main Line frequency has been 20 minutes in the summer, but 30 minutes in the spring and fall. This year's changes will provide a 20-minute frequency for the entire non-ski season. Public Works Director Philo Shelton told the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday that transit services need a frequency of at least 20 minutes to maintain consistent and high ridership. Shelton also noted that the free bus service costs the city $1 to $2 a passenger on its Main Line while the Hilltop Connector route costs $8 to $15 a passenger.
"Basically what we're doing is we're trying to improve the service on the Main Line which serves the core of our customers," Flint said.
This will be accomplished by combining the city's service to the Hilltop Connector route, Colorado Mountain College and Yampa Valley Medical Center into a single on-call service handled by one bus. CMC service has been on-call for some time, and Flint said he believes riders are satisfied with it.
"For the most part, people can call and a bus will come right away," Flint said. "I'm sure there's some dissatisfaction if four or five people call at the same time. But it appears, just by numbers, that there won't be a lot of delay for people. : The bus will be centered out of the downtown area, so most areas it will be able to reach within 10 minutes."
Camilla Martell, a cashier at CMC's dining hall, said the on-call model works well and that, on average, she only has to wait a few minutes for a bus. She is concerned, however, about what effect adding Hilltop Connector passengers might have on response times.
CMC student Scott MacPhee said he actually prefers an on-call service to the traditional bus route that used to service the CMC campus.
"They're usually here in five to 10 minutes," MacPhee said.
But Matt Robedee, a resident on the Hilltop Connector route who uses the bus to "get to work, get downtown, everything," is not excited about the changes. He said a large segment of Steamboat's workforce lives on the route because rents are cheaper.
"This ain't cool," Robedee said. "With the majority of the workforce up there, it's ridiculous not to have a regular bus. I'll be waiting a lot longer for sure. : Having (regular service) is more stable, especially for people who are working all the time."
Flint said Hilltop residents may prefer the on-call model because it will allow them to be taken directly to their destination rather than traversing the entire bus route on their way.
From the city's perspective, officials say the bus schedule changes will allow Steamboat Springs Transit to maintain a more stable work force. The city will increase its number of full-time, year-round drivers from 12 to 19, thus reducing the number of seasonal drivers it has to recruit in the summer and winter. Steamboat Springs Transit faced a bus-driver shortage this winter that forced limited service and the temporary removal of some bus routes. Shelton also noted Tuesday that it costs the city $3,000 to train a seasonal employee. This winter, the city spent $75,000 training 25 seasonal drivers.
The cost of adding five new full-time drivers would be made up in saved training costs, the lack of a full staff this winter and City Manager Alan Lanning's decision to move the transportation department under public works, eliminating the position of transportation director.
SST's hours also will change. Sunday through Thursday, the city's last bus will leave the Stock Bridge Transit Center at 10 p.m. It currently leaves at 11 p.m. The city also will do away with its late-night service on Friday and Saturday. Buses that used to leave the Stock Bridge Transit Center at midnight and 1 a.m. will be eliminated. Flint said this will allow the city to maintain its 20-minute frequency until 10 p.m., rather than having hourly service from 9 p.m. onward.