Public weighs in on Summit Stage changes | SummitDaily.com
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Public weighs in on Summit Stage changes

BOB BERWYN
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Upcoming changes to Summit Stage schedules and routes will probably be more about tweaking the system rather than a full-fledged overhaul.

“I wouldn’t expect to see any sweeping changes the first year,” said Summit Stage director John Jones.

“We got some good ideas without a lot of me, me, me,” said assistant county manager Thad Noll after a few dozen locals aired their opinions on transit at a June 19 open house.

Noll said the Frisco to Breckenridge route was a high priority for many citizens who spoke at the meeting. Other comments and discussions focused on the potential of providing transit service to and from outlying communities like Kremmling, Alma, Fairplay and Leadville.

The open house included a presentation by transit consultants who have been studying the Summit Stage and analyzing ridership numbers the past few months. While they haven’t finished crunching numbers yet, it’s clear that continued population growth, increased traffic and continued development will require some changes in the tax-funded transit service.

“Part of the genesis of this project was the Frisco to Breckenridge route,” Jones said, referring to a controversial decision to change the service on that line. Jones said the Stage now realizes it needs full service to all stops on that run.

“We have a pretty good idea of what we need to do,” he said.

“The Summit Stage can’t be all things to all people,” said County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, adding that increasing fuel costs could also affect the service. One key to providing the best possible service is to make sure there is good collaboration between the county, towns and resorts, Davidson said.

At-large Summit Stage board member Bob Starekow made similar observations.

“People generally love the Stage. They want us to hang on to every route possible and add new routes. But that’s just not possible,” Starekow said. “We need to look at areas of obvious growth and development in the county,” he said.

And as some of the main transportation arteries become clogged, it will be more important for local towns to develop internal circulator routes in collaboration with the Stage service, Starekow said.

Some of the ideas that were floated at the open house included a dial-a-ride service for some residential neighborhoods that have a regular but low volume of riders. Dial-a-ride could also work in conjunction with regular routes to serve residential clusters, Noll said, singling out Summit Cove and French Creek as examples.

In some cases, express routes between major destinations could be timed to connect with loop service in some areas to try and maintain the 30-minute service time between busy stops, Noll said.

“We’ll probably take a look at the A-Basin service. There may be a better way to do that,” Noll said, adding that the consultants will take a little closer look at that issue.

Some local residents voiced concerns about long transit times between Dillon and Frisco, said Breckenridge transit director Jim Benkelman, who also sits on the Summit Stage board.

“There was a lot of good discussion about whether the Summit Stage will ever be able to go to Alma and Leadville,” Benkelman said. Another subject that came up is how to provide regional connections between existing transit systems, for example between Summit and Eagle counties.

“There’s a lot of support from the intermountain transit planning region for that,” Benkelman said.

The consultants will take the public input from the open house and add it to the data they’ve gathered from their own study, eventually making some specific suggestions to the Summit Stage board in late August, potentially with another public meeting soon after. Ultimately, the BOCC will have the final say in any changes, based on the board recommendations.

In the meantime, residents and riders can still offer input by going to http://www.summitstage.com and clicking on the e-mail link.

Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.


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