Steamboat city buses to run less frequently at night this winter | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat city buses to run less frequently at night this winter

A Steamboat Springs Transit bus drives through heavy snow on U.S. Highway 40.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs residents and visitors looking to catch a bus ride home in the evenings this winter might have to wait a little longer for that ride thanks to a city budget cut.

Steamboat Springs Transit's night-line buses, which start running at 8:30 p.m., will arrive at stops every 30 minutes this winter instead of every 20 minutes.

The service reduction aims to save the city around $55,000 in operating costs.

"Any cuts are challenging, but we tried to look at places we thought we could absorb the service cuts or reductions with the least amounts of impacts to riders," Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said Thursday.

The good news for riders is that the bus service is already fully staffed for the winter, meaning the city will not need to pare down the service any further or make any major changes to routes as other mountain communities have had to do recently because of recruiting challenges.

This city's free-to rider bus system wasn't the only city entity that had to scale back its budget in some areas for next year to make the overall budget balanced.

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But the night-time service reduction is an example of something many residents will feel as a result of the city's tightening budget.

The city is also reducing the night-time bus service in the spring so that the bus service is more reliable at peak times in the summer months.

That separate cut means the late evening service on the bus will no longer be available from April 15 to May 26.

During that time, the last buses will leave the Stock Bridge Transit Center for the mountain area at 6:40 p.m. instead of 10:40 p.m.

Yellow line request

Earlier this week, the Steamboat City Council asked its city manager to reach out to Colorado Mountain College about a potential donation from the college toward the operation of the Yellow Line bus.

Many college students utilize the bus service, which has been tweaked in recent years to better serve students and others who need to get to the college.

Back in 2011, the college contributed $38,000 to help the city pay for operation of the service.

That year, the city was considering cutting back the service due to budget constraints.

But the contribution from CMC was never renewed.

"There will be no changes in the Yellow Line schedule this year, but we're just looking for some help," Flint said.

Seat belts coming

Riders who utilize the city's regional bus system will likely have the new option of wearing a seat belt on their journeys between Craig and Steamboat this winter.

Flint said the new seats and seat belts are on their way to Steamboat and should be installed in time for the winter season.

The seat belts were ordered following a crash of a regional city bus in March 2016 that injured several passengers and the driver.

Investigators said the crash on U.S. Highway 40 in west Steamboat was caused by another driver of an SUV who lost control and hit the bus head on.

Passengers in the city bus did not have seat belts available.

While the regional buses were not legally required to be equipped with seat belts, the city decided to make the investment and install them on the buses in the wake of the crash to improve passenger safety.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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