Commuters spend time, money getting to work
Debra Reglin allows herself an hour and a half to get to work each day. She never knows how the traffic and weather will be while driving on U.S. Highway 40 to Steamboat Springs.
But the extra 40 to 60 hours of drive time each month isn’t what gets to her; it’s the money.
“I don’t mind the drive itself,” Reglin said, “but when you really sit down and figure out the cost and miles, it’s surprising.”
She estimated she spends between $160 and $180 a month on gas and puts 2,200 miles on her car each month.
“These numbers of mind-boggling,” Reglin said.
She’s been working at Eyecare Specialties in Steamboat since December, when she graduated from the Colorado Northwestern Community College.
She heard about the job through the Colorado Workforce Center, and said Steamboat is “where the jobs are.” But the commute is already taking a toll on her pocketbook and she’s not sure it’s justifiable.
“When you sit down and figure out what these jobs are costing you, you’ve you to be making quite a bit more money to make it worth it,” she said.
But Chris Toovey thinks the benefits outweigh the negatives. She’s been commuting to Steamboat for 10 years.
“Jobs in Craig are hard to come by,” she said.
She’s not kidding. More than 21 percent of Moffat County’s employed traveled to Routt County for work in 2000, according to the Yampa Valley Partners Community Indicators Project. Only 1.3 percent of Routt County residents came to Moffat County.
But Monty Bond, lead worker for the work force center’s northwest region, said he doesn’t see this trend in his office.
“They’re looking for the best opportunity, the best paying job,” he said. “It may be in Craig. It may be in Steamboat.”
He has, however, heard concerns about the rising cost of fuel. He encourages carpooling with other commuters, which Toovey and Reglin say they both do.
The Steamboat Transit Auth–ority also provides a bus that travels to and from Craig each day for commuters. But that can be costly, too. And Toovey said that space is sometimes limited.
Both women have considered moving to Steamboat, but Toovey’s husband and children have their roots here.
Reglin said she simply can’t afford it. She owns a townhouse here and said a similar one in Steamboat costs $55,000 to $60,000 more.
So she’s debating what her next step will be.
Rob Winn, program director at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, was in her situation not too long ago. He and his wife, Melissa, lived in Meeker, and he commuted to Craig each day.
“It was $200 a month, and that’s when gas prices were low,” he said.
Since, Melissa has found a job at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, so the couple found a home here in December. But they miss the cheaper housing and fuel of Meeker.
Rob said he even misses the drive, but Melissa is happy to have him home from work at a decent time. He also likes knowing the people of Craig personally and professionally, and especially being recognized at the grocery store.
“It’s nice to be in the same town I’m working in,” Rob said. “It’s just that nice feeling of being home.”
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