Late night Summit Stage bus route cutbacks to cause pain for some Summit County workers this winter | SummitDaily.com

Late night Summit Stage bus route cutbacks to cause pain for some Summit County workers this winter

A Summit Stage bus picks up passengers Oct. 16 at the Frisco Transfer Center on Meadow Drive. A driver shortage has led to late night route cuts, leading to problems for local workers who have come to rely on the service.
Liz Copan / ecopan@summitdaily.com

FRISCO — Impending cuts to the county government-run Summit Stage bus service are leaving some local workers in a bind. The Summit Stage will be cutting late night routes on all of its major lines for the winter, cutting back most hourly routes to every two hours because of a bus driver shortage.

The Frisco to Breckenridge, Silverthorne to Dillon to Keystone, Boreas Pass Loop, Wildernest Loop, Silverthorne Loop, Silverthorne to Frisco and Copper Mountain routes are seeing late night cuts. While it is unknown how many people will be impacted by the cuts, Summit County Transit Director Curtis Garner said the county targeted relatively low ridership routes, which tend to be running late at night.

Taylor Godfrey, a chef who works at a restaurant in Keystone, is one local worker being impacted by the cuts. After getting out of work at midnight, she takes the 12:25 a.m. bus from Keystone to Dillon to Silverthorne and then transfers to the 1:15 a.m. bus home to Frisco.

But starting Sunday, Nov. 24, that 12:25 a.m. route will stop running. The last bus of the night at 1:25 a.m. will continue. But that leaves service workers like Godfrey, who get out of work late and transfer to another route, stranded because there are no buses operating past 1:30 a.m., meaning no bus from Silverthorne to Frisco.

Godfrey said she has seen full buses of workers and revelers taking the same route home, meaning she is not the only person affected.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Godfrey said about her and her fiance. “It’s already expensive to live out here, and the only options we have are to buy a car or taking an Uber for $30 or sleeping at the restaurant. We actually considered doing that, since we can’t afford $30 rides home. It’s causing a lot of stress.”

Godfrey said they are debating whether to leave Summit County if the situation doesn’t have an easier workaround.

“Jobs around here are already struggling to hire, and that’s just going to get worse if people like us leave,” she said.

Garner said that he, the transit board and Summit County government understand that these cuts were painful and that they were not made lightly. But the continuing reality of a lack of skilled workers in the county — in this case, qualified drivers with a commercial driver’s license or those willing to apply and get trained — forced the Summit Stage to make the cuts.

Garner said Summit Stage is experiencing a 13% shortage in staff, which means existing drivers are getting burned out working overtime and stretching their days to meet the existing schedule. That 13% staff shortage, he said, is resulting in a 4% cut in operating hours.

“This problem is not limited to Summit Stage,” Garner said in a nod to statewide shortages, particularly in Denver, where staffing levels are leading to 100 canceled trips daily.

Another issue — unique to Colorado and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana — is the conflict between federal and state rules regarding marijuana and how they affect which applicants are eligible to become public transit drivers.

“In Colorado, we have really different requirements than other places to recruit workers, and it’s something that needs to be addressed at the federal level,” said Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, who oversees the Summit Stage service. “It’s also an issue for other states that allow recreational marijuana. We need the feds to pass legislation that allows for states to have their own testing requirements when it comes to marijuana.”

Regardless of the staffing issue — and the cost-of-living issue that is at the root of most social and policy concerns in Summit County — Lawrence said she acknowledged the problems the cuts were causing people like Godfrey.

“I was not quiet about my displeasure when we were first presented with this, but I also understand we’re painted into a corner,” Lawrence said.

As far as solutions to prevent more service cuts or to restore full service, Lawrence admitted she had no immediate solutions to offer. She said county government will continue to work to find one.

“It’s important to note that we’ve always supported public transit, and it is important to me as commissioner and to the community,” Lawrence said. “We will continue to work to address this.”

Summit Stage winter 2019-20 bus route cancellations

The following is a list of routes and trip times that are canceled beginning Nov. 24 and lasting through the season. All other scheduled routes are operating as usual.

Frisco/Breckenridge:

  • Breckenridge to Frisco 12:45 a.m.
  • Frisco to Breckenridge 11:30 p.m.

Silverthorne/Dillon/Keystone:

  • Silverthorne to Keystone 11:45 p.m.
  • Keystone to Silverthorne 12:25 a.m.

Boreas Pass Loop:

  • 12:05 a.m.

Wildernest Loop:

  • 11:15 p.m.
  • 1:15 a.m.

Silverthorne Loop:

  • 9:45 p.m.
  • 11:45 p.m.

Silverthorne/Frisco:

  • Frisco to Silverthorne 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

Copper Mountain:

  • Frisco to Copper Mountain 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
  • Copper to Frisco 10 p.m. and midnight

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