Summit Stage adds Blue River route, expands existing services
September 18, 2015
With ski season fast approaching, Summit Stage is looking to offer new winter services for riders across the county. Starting Nov. 22, the Stage will run a commuter route from Blue River to Breckenridge, implement an evening rush-hour service for several lines and extend half-hour services on main line routes to 7 p.m.
"It was more us looking at how we can make things work a little bit better without spending too much money," said Summit County transit director Jim Andrew.
A few of the additions — such as the rush-hour buses — are renewals of successful trial runs from last winter. However, the Blue River bus is a completely new route that has been a long time coming.
"Any time we do a survey, one of the biggest demands we have is for bus service," said Michelle Eddy, Blue River town administrator. "I know quite a few people who work in Frisco and live in Blue River … It'll be nice to get a route out through here."
Larry Nelson, a Blue River trustee, said riders would be crucial to keeping the bus line in service. As with any other bus route, it must meet a performance standard for ridership set by the state.
"There's been quite a positive response for people saying they'd sure like that bus service," he said. "It's one thing to hear from people who want to have a bus service. It's another thing to have ridership."
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setting the stops
The proposed Blue River route would have two Breckenridge-bound morning shuttles and two return buses in the evening. While Summit Stage originally planned to offer just two buses per day to Blue River, the town offered $16,000 to cover the cost of two additional buses.
The times and locations of each individual stop have yet to be determined but will be discussed at the town's next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5:30 p.m. Summit Stage board member Kent Willis said that, initially, no bus stops will be built, as pickup and drop-off locations are tested.
"Then, if we decide to move forward and make this a more permanent kind of route, then we would look at thinking about building bus stops," he said.
He added that the steps toward the new service began after tax revenues increased this year. While Blue River approached Summit Stage with the request years ago, they did not have the funds to even consider it at the time.
"As long as the economy continues to do well, it should be OK," Andrew said. "The tax revenues have been really strong, and we've also been doing some belt tightening, putting some money into transit reserve fund."
Another high-demand service that will be added this winter is an extension of the main-line service, with buses every half hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the past, half-hourly buses ended at 6 p.m.
The Stage will also add Silverthorne Loop — busses within the town — and Wildernest rush-hour buses that were a success in a test drive last winter. In addition, a new Copper rush hour bus will depart at 3:45 p.m.
"We're experiencing, at the end of the day when people want to come home, buses are frequently overloading," Willis said. "We'll have a bus in the afternoon to handle some of that overloading. It's more demand driven than anything else."
In addition, the Breckenridge Express and Keystone Express buses will start running earlier in the morning, as well as some of the morning rush-hour buses. The Keystone Express bus will also be connected with the A-Basin bus to allow for easier travel.
All of the proposed changes for this coming winter, including the Blue River route, will cost $59,000 total. In January, Summit Stage may opt to extend some of those services into next summer, depending on revenues and ridership.
"We'll look at them probably in January to see if we're gonna extend them for the full year," Willis said. "Winter is our busiest season."