Summit Stage lends a hand with busing while school district is understaffed |

Summit Stage lends a hand with busing while school district is understaffed

The Summit Stage bus system offers free transportation around Summit County, as pictured Feb. 27, 2020, at the Frisco Transfer Station on Meadow Drive. With a lack of school bus drivers, some students have been able to rely on Summit Stage to get to school.
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

Despite being short staffed itself, Summit Stage has played a key role in making sure students get to school this year while Summit School District is low on bus drivers.

Interim Superintendent Roy Crawford said busing has continued to be a challenge all school year, but not as much as it would have been without the help of Summit Stage. Crawford said he’s happy the district was able to add a bus route to Blue River but that families are just continuing to make the best of a “really bad situation.”

“I think families have settled into the reality, and they’ve made alternative plans. But it’s clearly not what we want, and we don’t see an end in sight,” Crawford said. “We want to be able to transport all kids. We want to be able to drive through most of our neighborhoods both before and after school.”

Crawford and other school district staff met with Summit County Transit Director Chris Lubbers as early as August to see how Summit Stage could help. Summit Stage couldn’t immediately make any changes to its schedule since it already had folks relying on the schedule to get to work, but the organization reevaluated when it came time to create the winter routes.

“We want to help wherever possible,” Lubbers said. “Where there’s a need and a deficiency, certainly anywhere in the community, we want to try to step up and fill that gap.”

Summit Stage ended up cutting back its winter routes due to a lack of drivers, but the schedules still line up close enough to get kids to school. Crawford said that most of the time kids are getting to Summit Middle School on time and that students at Summit High School might get there 5-10 minutes late.

But with routes being cut, Lubbers said there was a “critical time deficiency” in the mornings that wouldn’t allow kids to get to school from Breckenridge. In an effort to help with this, Summit Stage’s administrative office staff has been rotating driving a bus from the Breckenridge station to the high school and middle school on days the school is open.

“I think it’s just unbelievably gracious on their part,” Crawford said. “It really is above and beyond because they’re taking that time out of their workday to do that. That is a pretty special thing.”

Lubbers said despite a lack of drivers for both entities, he thinks the collaboration has worked out for the best.

“We were very happy and willing to do it,” Lubbers said. “We knew we’d be helping a lot of folks by doing that one stop.”

Summit Stage Operations Manager Alex Soto said the organization has an average of 150 students riding the county bus to and from school. About 75-80 students take the bus in the morning and the same in the afternoon.

Crawford said it’s important for families to remind their kids that proper bus safety and behavior is “paramount” while riding with the Summit Stage. He said when kids get on a school bus, it’s like they’re walking into a school building, and they typically modify their behavior based on that.

“It’s public transportation. It’s not a school bus,” Crawford said. “They don’t follow school bus traffic laws. They don’t have flashing lights for kids to cross the road.”

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