Summit Stage considers new routes in plan update
The Summit Stage is planning for the future.
Community members and county staff participated in a virtual open house last week to provide feedback on the short-range transit plan, a guiding document meant to provide officials with a five-year road map to enhancing services on the Summit Stage.
The plans are being developed with the help of a consulting group called Fehr and Peers, which signed on in September and provided an update on their recommendations during the open house.
“It really defines how the Summit Stage will adapt and grow over the next five years — what opportunities there are for possibly improving routes, making changes and tweaks,” said Jason Miller, project manager with the consulting team. “It defines everything from service to financials to organizational strategies. … It’s not to say we want to tear everything down to the ground. We want to be cognizant of the fact that the Summit Stage operates very well today and that many people depend on it and the way it operates today. We are really looking at some of the potential additive options.”
The plans are centered around five opportunities to expand or add routes to the bus service’s existing operations based on rider and stakeholder input collected earlier this year. While the concepts are “high level” and not fully developed, the presentation also provided context for the prioritization of the ideas based on variables like ridership, potential improvements to speed and connectivity, and impacts to staffing and funding.
The first opportunity — and most requested during the initial community outreach effort — is a new winter route between Frisco and Keystone, which would connect the locations without a transfer for the first time. Other opportunities include an updated version of the Swan Mountain Flyer that would better loop in the Summit Cove neighborhood, more trips for Blue River and Park County commuters, and express routes connecting Silverthorne to Keystone and Frisco to Breckenridge.
Community members participating in the open house were able to provide feedback in real time by voting in polls associated with each idea. Only a few riders logged in to vote, but respondents generally expressed the most excitement for a Frisco to Breckenridge express route.
In addition to new and expanded routes, the final plan also will provide insights on other needs voiced by the community, including the continued electrification of the bus fleet, new bus stops and more.
Fehr and Peers will take the feedback gathered at the meeting and use it to help complete a finalized plan by the end of the year. No timeline has been set for the implementation of new routes or other ideas outlined in the plan, and county officials will have to consider a number of variables like staffing, funding and COVID-19 concerns before moving forward. But the concepts should serve as a compass to help point them in the right direction.
“I think in general, our approach to a short-range transit plan is that it’s aspirational and not fully constrained to existing conditions,” Miller said. “But at the same time, we want to be realistic. So the final plan that you’ll see will have different scenarios, different phasing and some tools … you could use to make adjustments to existing service in order to make something else happen.”
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