Trigg: Fixing Summit Stage
Ryan Summerlin January 30, 2013
Last Wednesday in the article announcing Summit Stage director John Jones’ resignation, it was also said that the Stage finished 2012 $300,000 over budget. I believe that is in the neighborhood of 5 percent of their annual budget. Over the past four years we’ve heard how the Stage has been struggling to stay within its budget due to rising costs and revenues that have been stagnant. They are certainly not alone in that regard, as many businesses and individuals have struggled since the economic crisis started in the fall of 2008.
One item that is being discussed to help with the budget is advertising on the buses. It sounds like a no-brainer. Additional revenue with no additional expense? Why not?
One item that isn’t being discussed is a very touchy one that many people are unaware of. A few years ago a line item transfer in the county budget took funds from the Stages accounts, reportedly in excess of 10 percent of their annual budget, and used them for other purposes. Those funds were not repayed.
One item that should be discussed is the Swan Mountain Flyer, the popular route that runs direct from Breckenridge to Keystone. Both ski areas are owned by Vail Resorts, and Vail Resorts used to operate the KAB Express between them. That service was cancelled, and replaced with the Flyer. Considering that, and considering that the Flyer is a duplicate route of the main Stage routes which cuts travel time between Breck and Keystone from 90 minutes to about half an hour, why not ask Vail Resorts to subsidize the cost of the Flyer, which, ironically, is very close to the $300,000 which the Stage is overbudget?
One thing that seems apparent is that the county isn’t going to simply hire a new director for the Stage and allow business to continue as usual. Some changes are bound to come. I’m not suggesting eliminating the Flyer as a quick fix to the budget woes; it’s a very popular route with both riders and the county commissioners. But the Stage is a service that many people use and depend on, and I hope all parties think hard and long before victimizing the people who depend on the bus in their daily lives and the drivers whose livelihood would be effected by service cuts and possible lay-offs.
Bruce Trigg, Frisco