County gives financial OK for late-night bus service to begin
SUMMIT COUNTY – Those who hold the county’s purse strings gave the nod Monday for the Summit Stage to start its late-night service six weeks ahead of time.
While three representatives of the county’s restaurant association showed up to make a pitch for the money to the Summit Board of County Commissioners, they scarcely got a word in. Commissioners were unanimous, if not verbose, in their support.
“What’s the problem?” said Commissioner Tom Long.
“Let’s do it,” said Commissioner Gary Lindstrom.
And that sealed the decision.
Voters approved late-night transit service – which adds two hours to the end of the Stage’s daily schedule – in the November election. But because the added .25 percent sales tax revenues collected won’t be available until March, the planned start date was set for April 14.
During last week’s county transit board meeting, board members and restaurateurs said that date didn’t make sense.
“Our opinion was starting the service April 14 is kind of foolish,” said Bobby Starekow, vice president of the Summit County Restaurant Association and owner of Silverheels at the Ore House. “People will be gone, ridership will be low.”
County Commissioner Bill Wallace also said he believes “the citizens expected” the service would start sooner.
County transit director Bill Watterson already has the wheels in motion. He’s placed a newspaper advertisement searching for drivers on the later route, which he hopes to have up and running by March 3.
“The main thing we need to do is recruit sufficient drivers, hire and then train them,” he said. “The training period is approximately six weeks. We are going to be very challenged to meet March 3 with new hires unless we get those people in the door this week. The first plan is to get the drivers in the door and train them so we can simply add shifts, but there’s also the possibility we can get the service on the road with existing drivers.”
Under the new schedule, buses will depart from the Frisco Transfer Center on their last routes at 1:30 a.m.
Voters also approved in November increasing Stage service to run every half hour.
“We’ll get the late-night service up and running first, and then set the date to get the half-hour service from 6 to 6,” Watterson said. “I’ll be talking with the transit board and the county commissioners about what appears to be feasible based upon the progress we make. Then we’ll set an implementation date and go for that.”
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