Commuters rely on buses

Passengers, officials debate the necessity of a bus depot

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When Larry Trice gets up in the morning and heads to work, he relies on one thing -- the bus from Craig to Steamboat Springs.

"It's very important," he said. "If it didn't run, I'd have to work here in Craig. I'd have to live paycheck to paycheck here."

Trice, who works at Grease Monkey in Steamboat Springs, is just one of many people who rely on the bus from Craig to Routt County for transportation to work.

In 2000, 21 percent of residents in Craig commuted to Routt County, up from 3 percent in 1990, according to the Yampa Valley Partners Community Indicators Report.

Trice, who catches the bus at the east Kum & Go, uses the bus to get to work because he cannot drive because of legal reasons. Without a bus to Steamboat, Trice said he would be in a tough situation.

"It would just hurt," he said.

Robert Vaughn, a fellow bus user, said the bus also is necessary for him to get to work.

"Right now, it's very important," he said. "It's the only way I can get to my job. Without it, I'd have to ride my bike."

The average number of people using the bus has risen dramatically. From 1998 to 2002, an average of more than 1,900 passengers used the bus each month -- an increase of 1,100 passengers from 1994 to 1997, according to the report.

Because of the passenger numbers, there have been discussions about building a bus depot in Craig. Several of the bus stops across Craig are at local businesses. Although most people walk to the bus stops, some drive to the stops and leave their cars there.

Steamboat Springs Trans-portation Director George Krawzoff said a bus depot may be a possibility in Craig because it would be much more convenient for the passengers to have a park-and-ride station.

Marcia Dewall, the district supervisor of Kum & Go for Colorado and Wyoming, agrees. She said she has not had any problems with people parking at the east Kum & Go, but she said a bus depot would help everyone, especially the passengers.

"I think it would be a great idea," she said. "Right now, we just don't have enough parking for all those people."

There have been talks about making the old County Road and Bridge Department building, next to the east Kum & Go, a bus depot. Moffat County leases the building to the city of Steamboat Springs, and officials have discussed the possibility of selling the building to Steamboat.

Krawzoff said Steamboat would "very much like to buy" the building and convert it into a bus depot, but the city has run into several problems.

Moffat County commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council members can't agree on a price for the building. Krawzoff said that because most of the money to buy the building would come from a grant, Steamboat cannot pay more than the appraised value of the building.

Moffat County Commissioner Saed Tayyara said he hopes that a price can be agreed on that would be beneficial to Craig.

"Presently, it's idle," he said. "We can't just give it away."

The asking price of the building has not been made public and likely will not be released until a contract is at stake.

Krawzoff hopes to have a deal in place soon because the lease on the building runs out Sept. 30. He said that if a deal can be worked out, the building would be kept in its current condition, and construction on a bus depot would start sometime next summer. If no deal is reached, Steamboat officials will search for a new site.

Steamboat Springs City Coun-cil members and Moffat County commissioners agree that the bus service is necessary for people in the area.

"Transportation is essential for the people working in Steamboat," Tayyara said.

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