Greyhound leaving the driving to Craig

Although Harold Ratzlaff has worked at Craig's bus depot for 25 years, he didn't talk as if he's worried about his livelihood after Aug. 18, when Greyhound Lines, Inc., plans to discontinue its local run.

He's more concerned about the locals who depend on the line.

"It will have a disastrous effect on lots of local people who depend entirely on it for transportation in and out of town," Ratzlaff predicted.

Greyhound Lines, Inc., a subsidiary of Laidlaw International, Inc., recently announced a new route structure for its Northern transportation region. The new structure, which will eliminate service in Steamboat Springs as well as Craig, should provide more efficient service to customers in high-use areas, said Lynn Brown, vice-president of corporate communications for Greyhound.

Of the 230 depots scheduled for closing, 50 percent sold no outbound tickets in 2003, Brown said.

With the terror attacks of Sept. 11, Greyhound saw ticket sales drop and insurance costs rise.

The company first changed its pricing strategy, particularly for long haul service, and began eliminating unprofitable and marginally profitable routes.

Ratzlaff admitted the Craig depot isn't much of a moneymaker.

"The last three to four years, we've been a community service rather than a source of revenue," he said.

When the Craig depot opened at 2 p.m. Monday, two customers purchased $115 tickets for El Paso, Texas, and California. Ratzlaff said he usually sells three or four tickets to Craig locals a day.

"It's going to be a real hardship on the ranchers, because 99 percent of their employees go by bus," Ratzlaff said.

Ratzlaff sells bus tickets and his wife, Nancy, keeps track of the station's books. When the station closes, Ratzlaff said he might look for a part-time job.

Once the Craig station is closed, the closest station would be in Rawlins, Wyo., Brown said.

Aside from Craig customers, many residents of Meeker, Dinosaur, and Baggs, Wyo., travel to Craig to catch the bus, Ratzlaff said.

Routes from Denver to Salt Lake City will run through Fort Collins, Laramie, Wyo., Rawlins, and Rock Springs, Wyo.

Greyhound's announcement shouldn't have much impact on the Steamboat Springs transit department's plans to open a bus station in Craig.

Current plans call for a $600,000 station to be built on the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

There was discussion about housing Greyhound in that facility, but nothing had been firmly determined, said Jonathan Flint, operations manager with Steamboat Springs transit department.

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