Steamboat Springs A driver shortage to start the winter season couldn't keep Steamboat Springs Transit from breaking its peak day and yearly ridership figures in 2007. The free bus service served 1,144,800 passengers in 2007, exceeding the 1 million mark for the first time with its local service.
On SST's busiest day, New Year's Eve, drivers served a record 11,655 passengers, surpassing the previous high by about 1,600 passengers. SST served an average of 3,136 passengers a day in 2007, up from 1,068 a decade ago.
"I think there's a larger segment relying on transit," Transit Operations Manager Jonathan Flint said Thursday. "Overall, people have come to count on the reliability, and our drivers do a great job."
Flint and Transportation Director George Krawzoff noted that ridership is on the rise year-round. Both believe it's not just tourists who drove the record-setting performance in 2007.
"A lot of that's local ridership," Krawzoff said. "The fact that locals are using the service is a great thing. : We did a record year, and we're happy with that."
Steamboat Springs Transit entered the winter season with a significant driver shortage that resulted in limited service and the temporary removal of some bus routes. Krawzoff said he believes passenger numbers would have been even more impressive with a full staff of drivers. He said the shortage is likely the reason November was one of only four months in which ridership did not increase from 2006.
All winter routes since have been restored with the same frequency as last year, and the bus service now is only one full-time driver short of a full staff, with four drivers in training.
New Year's Eve can be a hectic night for the bus service, but Krawzoff said the night "went very smooth" despite the record number of reveling passengers.
"People were very well-behaved and orderly," Flint added.
Flint said groups of people were spread out fairly evenly between the base of Steamboat Ski Area and downtown. Buses ran later than advertised, and Flint said the last bus pulled in for the night between 2:30 and 3 a.m. New Year's Day.
"It was really cold that night, so we just didn't want to be leaving people outside at all," Flint said.
Krawzoff said he hopes the high volume of passengers on SST buses made for safer roadways. Area law enforcement officers said the famed party night was relatively tame. The Steamboat Springs Police Department made no arrests for driving under the influence, the Colorado State Patrol made two arrests in the Steamboat area and the Routt County Sheriff's Office made three DUI arrests.
"It was definitely kind of slow," Sheriff's Office Sgt. Miles De Young said Tuesday.
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