The longest-serving director the Summit Stage has ever had gave his notice of resignation Tuesday, transit officials confirmed.
John Jones, who has headed the free local transit system for more than eight years, is leaving Summit County next month to take a similar position in Charlottesville, Va.
"I just got the feeling toward the end of the year that maybe I had stayed a little too long," said Jones, who previously turned down an offer for another job. "We transit managers tend to move around. That's what we're all about."
Jones' resignation comes as the Summit Stage faces a slew of possible changes. The transit system finished 2012 $300,000 over budget with severely depleted reserves.
Officials are now vetting both a new source of revenue - exterior advertising on Stage buses - and a reduction in bus service to help rebuild the system's savings account balance.
"In some ways it's not good timing for us," Stage board president Kent Willis said of Jones' departure. "We've got all these big issues and John's been at the forefront of all of them."
Officials are also looking at how to decrease the ride time between Frisco and Breckenridge and implement a series of route improvements recommended following a comprehensive study of the Stage system last year.
County officials have not yet determined how Jones' replacement will be selected.
"Any time a director leaves we take that opportunity to look at what's the best way to organize," assistant county manager Thad Noll said. "We'll go through that process over the next few days."
Jones' tenure was marked by highs and lows for the Summit Stage system, with some of the toughest times in recent years. Still, Noll credits Jones with helping to improve and advance the service.
"He's taken us really to another level in our whole system while he's been here," he said. "His maintenance skills really helped our whole maintenance program."
Jones will be taking over as the transit manager for the Charlottesville Area Transit system, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"It's a little bittersweet," he said. "We like it here and we've made a lot of friends here. The thing is, back there we're closer to family."