With new Frisco Transfer Center, Summit County aims to provide inviting experience for commuters and visitors | SummitDaily.com

With new Frisco Transfer Center, Summit County aims to provide inviting experience for commuters and visitors

With a fireplace, large windows to fill the building with natural light and other amenities, county officials hope to increase ridership and make progress on sustainability goals by getting more personal vehicles off the road

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
A Summit Stage bus pulls up outside the new Frisco Transfer Center on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

Summit County has unveiled a new hub at the Frisco Transfer Center that officials hope will help improve ridership and encourage new users to ride public transportation for the first time.

The 3,600-square-foot building at 1010 Meadow Drive is the result of a $5 million project — with about half the funds coming from the state — to replace the previous structure at the property with something more inviting.

“This is a beautifully designed facility,” Summit County Commissioner Joshua Blanchard said. “So our goal is to destigmatize some of the thoughts around public transportation. This is open for anyone. We encourage everyone to come and take advantage of the Summit Stage and other public transit options.”

Every year, about 350,000 people pass through the Frisco Transit Center, Blanchard said, noting it is often people’s first introduction into the community. In addition to the free Summit Stage bus, the hub services the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bustang, Pegasus and Snowstang buses, private shuttles, Greyhound buses, and a commuter route to Leadville. All four of Summit County’s ski resorts are accessible on the Summit Stage bus line.

Where visitors were once greeted by a building with concrete bathrooms and few windows, the new facility offers “drastically improved” bathrooms, a spacious and comfortable interior and plenty of natural light, Summit Stage Transit Director Chris Lubbers said.

With the new facility, visitors can charge their phone at one of the many outlets and USB ports, watch their bus arrive through the window while warming up next to the fireplace, pick up a book from “Library on the Go” and walk along heated sidewalks free of ice to their bus. There is even a space for a vendor, though it is currently vacant.

Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News
Summit Stage Transit Director Chris Lubbers inside the new Frisco Transfer Station on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

For added security for travelers, the new building also includes a substation for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The new substation provides an additional location for deputies to be stationed and respond from, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said, and also keeps visitors coming back to the county.

“If they feel safe here, they’re going to come back and they’re going to visit with us again,” FitzSimons said. “And that is what we want. We want people to come. We are a tourist community.”

The new facility also helps the county as it works towards meeting its sustainability and climate goals. The building exceeds LEED specifications for energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions, Lubbers said, although it did not go through the LEED certification process.

Moreover, by having a more inviting central hub for the county’s public transportation, county officials hope to increase ridership and decrease the number of personal vehicles on the road — reducing carbon emissions as well as traffic congestion.

“Transportation in general accounts for some of our largest greenhouse gas emissions in the county,” Blanchard said. “So by reducing that meets some of our sustainability and climate goals.”

The county especially hopes to attract locals who commute to and from work daily to use public transit more often, Lubbers said. The size of the parking lot has also increased by about 30%, he added, providing more opportunities for people to park and take advantage of public transportation options.

The Frisco Transfer Center on Thursday, April 6, 2023.
Ryan Spencer/Summit Daily News

The new Frisco Transfer Center is also part of the county government’s long-term plans to expand public transportation options to previously underserved areas of the county, according to Lubbers. That is likely to mean bringing bus stations to neighborhoods where there are currently none, he said.

But it also means getting the wait time for Summit Stage buses back down to 30 minutes, where it was previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in difficulty staffing bus drivers and technicians, Lubbers said. Summit Stage buses currently run every hour, he said.

With a starting pay for bus drivers of $28.25 per hour, a $5,000 sign-on bonus, a 14% raise after the first year and an additional raise after two years, Lubbers said he expects Summit Stage to be highly competitive for drivers.

“Because of the wages that we’re offering we’re able to not just look toward getting the quantity of talent that we need but really looking at the highest quality of talent,” Lubbers said. “Providing the best, safest, most enticing transit service.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summit Stage saw ridership numbers increasing between 10 and 20% annually, Lubbers said. The pandemic slashed ridership to about half of what it had been but is now back to almost 80% of its previous level, he said, adding that the new transit center is built to accommodate growing ridership.

“It provides improved transit services not only to the residents of Summit County,” Blanchard said. “But of course to all of our visitors.”

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