Steamboat Springs Commuter van service between South Routt and Steamboat Springs could begin as soon as next month.
The Routt County Board of Commissioners today is expected to consider offering the contract for the service to national firm VPSI. The company, which operates more than 5,000 passenger vans across the country, was the only provider to turn in a complete bid to Routt County government. VPSI has proposed to offer the service for about $1,300 a month.
County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush applied for a grant from the Federal Transportation Administration to support the van service in 2007, and $12,500 was awarded in September 2009. The Trapper’s Lake Sierra Club has contributed a portion of the required match, and the balance must be generated by rider subscriptions, Mitsch Bush said.
The van service would allow people commuting daily between Steamboat and South Routt to leave their cars behind and opt for a $6 round-trip fare. Service is expected to begin in March.
The first van route would tentatively travel from Stagecoach to Steamboat Springs at about 6 a.m. and return from Steamboat Springs at about 6 p.m. The second route would be from Oak Creek to Steamboat, again leaving at about 6 a.m. and returning from Steamboat to Oak Creek in the early evening.
The two initial 12-passenger vans are expected to have individual seats and reading lights.
Commuters will not be able to hop the vans in the same way they would a public transit bus. Instead, they will be asked to pay for a month’s worth of trips (five days a week) in advance.
In their proposal, VPSI officials told the commissioners they would conduct community meetings in South Routt to market and explain the shuttle service.
VPSI’s business plan entails recruiting and training volunteer drivers with commercial licenses to operate the daily roundtrips in exchange for free passage for themselves. VPSI also will assign a local project manager, and it pledges to keep the vans operational, including arranging a backup vehicle if one is out of service.
This is not the first time local governments have supported public transportation between Steamboat and South Routt.
Go Alpine taxi operated a similar service in the late 1990s and into the beginning of this decade.
Interest in that service, in an era of cheap gasoline, steadily declined.
Go Alpine submitted a single-page standard description of its charter services in response to the request for proposals.
Four other potential providers, including Colorado Mountain Express, Steamboat Springs Transit, Storm Mountain Express and Veolia Transportation acknowledged receipt of the request but did not respond further, according to a memo sent to the commissioners by county building and plant director Tim Winter.
The commissioners are expected to vote on the contract with VPSI at 3:30 p.m. today in their hearing room in the old Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.