Steamboat Springs Transit bus ridership was up 7 percent in 2013 |

Steamboat Springs Transit bus ridership was up 7 percent in 2013

A Steamboat Springs Transit bus zips through downtown Tuesday morning. Ridership on the city's bus service jumped 7 percent in 2013.

— Steamboat Springs Transit is on a roll.

The city’s bus service carried 1,095,696 riders in 2013 and saw a 7 percent jump in ridership over 2012.

It was the seventh year in a row Steamboat Transit has carried more than 1 million riders.

To put all of this in perspective, Steamboat Transit carried a more modest sum of 562,747 riders in 1991.

"It’s really nice," Steamboat Transit Manager Jonathan Flint said about the gains in ridership. "Where we saw the lion’s share of the growth was in the summertime. This is the first year in the summertime that the daily ridership never dipped below 1,000 riders a day."

He said a combination of a good tubing season, a season of lesser fire danger here, a general increase in visitors and more local usage led to the ridership gains in the summer.

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In 2012, for example, ridership took a hit when the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and the Fourth of July fireworks were canceled because of high fire danger.

The busiest day for the bus service last year was during Winter Carnival, when 10,944 riders came aboard to see the street events and then the big fireworks extravaganza at Howelsen Hill.

That day narrowly edged out New Year’s Eve, when 9,488 riders utilized the bus service.

The service hit 1 million riders Dec. 21 last year.

The bus service also had other triumphs in 2013.

Ridership on the Yellow Line increased enough to keep the route that services Colorado Mountain College and other neighborhoods more sustainable.

"We really appreciate the confidence the people of Steamboat have in our transit system," Flint said. "Without the riders, we wouldn’t be able to hit those milestones. It’s also a huge, huge tribute to the work the drivers and support staff do here."

Flint said Steamboat’s transportation system provides roughly 10 percent of all rural transit rides in Colorado.

They do check in on ridership in other mountain resort communities to compare, but Flint said the uniqueness of each mountain town greatly affects the ridership.

In Telluride, for example, a tram can take skiers from downtown to the ski area, unlike in Steamboat, where buses are more utilized to get people up there.

It won’t be long this year until Steamboat’s transit system sees some new upgrades.

Flint said the city is moving forward with a plan to install new GPS trackers in all of the buses that will allow riders to get live information about where the buses are.

It could be useful for riders who don’t want to stand outside in subzero temperatures to wait for a bus.

The new system, which will include better electronic trackers in another phase, also will have another perk.

"Right now, we can’t really tell who that 1 millionth rider was," Flint said. "With the new system, we’ll be able to identify who it was, and we can congratulate them."

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

Top 10 busiest years for Steamboat Springs Transit

1. 2008 (1.29 million)

2. 2009 (1.17 million)

3. 2007 (1.14 million)

4. 2013 (1.10 million)

5. 2011 (1.05 million)

6. 2010 (1.05 million)

7. 2012 (1.02 million)

8. 2000 (947,000)

9. 2006 (945,000)

10. 1998 (934,000)

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