Summit Stage sees increase in summer passengers |

Summit Stage sees increase in summer passengers

Kathryn Turner
summit daily news

Summit Stage summer ridership is up significantly over last year, something officials attribute to good tourism and lowering unemployment in Summit County over the past few months.

July saw an increase in riders of 9.63 percent compared to 2011, almost 15 percent in June and nearly 12 percent for May, according to John Jones, director of Summit County Government Transit and Fleet Services.

Jones expects numbers for August to be slightly up, as well.

“I think it was a lot of folks coming up to beat the heat,” Jones said of the increased ridership figures. And it’s a good sign that unemployment is trending down, since the stage moves a lot of locals to and from work.

“As unemployment slides down … ridership goes up,” Jones said.

Summit Stage board president Kent Willis said part of the increase in summer ridership is also due to the stage’s ability to return to half-hour service during the summer; It was cut back to hourly the last two or three summers.

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“This year, due to cost savings found by the drivers and supervisors, we were able to keep half-hour service during the summer, just like in the winter,” Willis said. “This translates to more convenience and better service for our riders.”

Depending on when the snow starts to fly, Jones expects the overall 2012 ridership numbers to be about 5 percent over last year – a total of 85,000 more passengers.

While sales tax numbers are heading in the right direction, albeit slowly, Jones said the Stage will hold the status quo for 2013 with the hope that in 2014, initiatives like redesigning routes or adding other services will be a possibility.

The Stage’s future-needs study was just released to board members, and will be discussed at the Sept. 26 meeting, Jones said.

The study, the first analysis of the Summit Stage system since 2008, is intended to help pinpoint ways to make the Stage more financially efficient and more effective and attractive for riders; and to indicate potential changes that soothe political tensions between local towns over routes.