Summit Stage director Jim Andrew this week released data showing that 2013 ridership numbers were nearly on par with those from 2012, despite some service reductions.
Fixed-route ridership for 2013 totaled 1,864,565 one-way trips, down less than 1 percent, or about 19,000 trips, compared with 2012. Paratransit and late-night ridership, with 5,809 and 80,033 trips respectively, also were down compared with 2012.
Ridership numbers decreased slightly because the winter season started about three weeks later than usual, Andrew said. In addition, the Summit Stage Board of Directors decided to cut some summer services as well as peak service to Copper Mountain.
“Those three factors attributed for the difference, but at the end of the year we were only down less than 1 percent,” Andrew said. “Had we not cut those, we would have been close to 2 million trips.”
But Summit County assistant manager Thad Noll said had the county maintained those services, Summit Stage would have run even deeper into the red. The department was forced to borrow money from the county’s general fund to maintain service due to unforeseen increases in fuel and maintenance costs in 2013, particularly toward the end of the year.
Maintenance costs for December 2013 were $160,109, up from $129,209 in December 2012 for a 19 percent increase. However, year-end maintenance costs were $1,839,838, which was just a slight increase over 2012 numbers of $1,821,016.
Although total fuel costs of $879,839 were down 7 percent compared with 2012, the report attributes the reduction to buses traveling fewer miles.
“Our ridership was almost identical despite some service changes to keep the system in the black,” Noll said. “Were hoping to make some adjustments to summer service to bring numbers back up to its peak in 2007.”
Although main-line ridership was down in 2013, Summit Stage did see increases in two of its auxiliary routes.
The Purple Route, which runs between the Frisco and Breckenridge transportation centers, experienced a 3.8 percent increase, or 76,007 one-way trips, in 2013. Ridership on the Lake County link increased to 10,445 one-way trips, up 25.8 percent compared with 2012.
Although the county has not yet cleared its fiscal 2013 records, Summit Stage is estimating total year-end operating costs to come in at $8,632,290, down from $9,379,413 in 2012.