Photo by John F. Russell
Bus mechanic Thomas Zurstadt works on a city bus Tuesday afternoon. Steamboat Springs Transit is hosting an open house next week to discuss proposed changes to the Yellow Line. Operations Manager Jonathan Flint said he also is looking at potential efficiencies in the free bus system.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
If you go
What: Meeting to discuss future of Yellow Line
When: 5:30 p.m. Nov. 1
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs residents who passionately defended the Yellow Line at Centennial Hall earlier this month will have a chance to help shape the future of the free bus route at an open house next week.
Steamboat Springs Transit Operations Manager Jonathan Flint said Tuesday that since the Steamboat Springs City Council decided to pass on $350,000 in cuts to free bus service that would have cut the Yellow Line, his department has been busy exploring ways to increase the bus route's ridership.
He will present a list of potential changes to the service and welcome community feedback at the Nov. 1 open house at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
“We want to make it as user friendly as we can,” Flint said. “It meets a lot of different needs in a lot of different areas. There are going to be some challenges with (making it more efficient), but anything we can do to make it more user friendly and increase its efficiency is the goal.”
Flint said changes to service he is considering include adding on-call service to Steamboat Springs High School, serving Colorado Mountain College twice an hour instead of once, and allowing residents to reserve a pickup a day in advance.
In addition to drastically reducing evening bus service in the summer, city officials eyed cutting the Yellow Line to balance the 2013 budget because the route is the city's least utilized and by far the most expensive, with an average cost of $10.07 per passenger per ride to operate.
But following a public outcry over the elimination of the bus service, the City Council raised its conservative 2013 revenue projection to forgo the cuts.
They then gave city officials until January to identify a more cost-effective way to run the Yellow Line.
Some council members still are looking to Colorado Mountain College, one of the biggest users of the Yellow Line, to financially contribute to the operation of the route.
The sentiment was raised last week by council President Bart Kounovsky and council member Cari Hermacinski when the council agreed to donate $15,000 to the college to gain naming rights to a conference room in the Alpine Campus' new academic center.
Hermacinski and Kounovsky voted against the donation and questioned what progress city officials had made in developing a partnership with CMC to run the Yellow Line.
Flint and Public Works Director Chuck Anderson met Tuesday morning with City Council member Sonja Macys to discuss the Yellow Line and the changes that could be adopted to make it more efficient and cost effective.
They also mapped out what they hope will become a collaborative effort to arrive at a long-term solution for its operation.
The city has identified CMC, Horizons Specialized Services, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and the Steamboat Springs School District as the major partners it will work with to develop a long-term solution to run the Yellow Line.
“We're planning to take the next couple of weeks and go out and talk to some of these people who have an interest in the Yellow Line and see if we can come up with a coalition that can work together on this issue,” Macys said. “The idea is not like we're going to go knock on doors saying, 'Hey, this is your fair share; Write us a check.'”
Macys said she would prefer the city and the major users of the Yellow Line work together to instead apply for grants to support the free bus service.
“What we're talking about is much broader than just CMC,” Macys said.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com