HomeNews Mountain Express bus system still running circles between CB & ski area
Mountain Express bus system still running circles between CB & ski area
Written by Mark Reaman
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Trying to get back to buying a bus a year
The wheels on the bus continue to go round and round in the north end of the valley. In an annual report to the Crested Butte Town Council, the Mountain Express reported that through November of last year, the bus system had carried 462,650 passengers. That’s a lot of people but a 5.8 percent decrease over the previous year.
Board president Gary Keiser reported the bus system had also put in 115 extra service bus hours to accommodate late-night special events. “The fleet is getting pretty old,” Keiser said. “We should be buying a new bus every year but for a while we focused our funds on the new bus barn. Now that that’s done we can get back to trying to regularly update the fleet. We did just purchase a new small bus this year that will be used primarily on the Condo Loop. Eighty percent of the bus was paid for by a federal grant and the other 20 percent was picked up by Mt. Crested Butte. We refer to it as the prison bus since it won’t be painted until after the season.” Keiser noted that only two buses have been purchased in the last five years. “The biggest number in our budget is salaries,” explained Keiser. “Health insurance is going up and that’s a big issue.” While it is a big line item, salaries haven’t increased in four years. The 2013 budget includes a wage increase of 3 percent but the board has decided to wait until the end of the ski season to make an official decision on any increases. Keiser did say that turnover of employees is low. Keiser said the system has an operating reserve of about $550,000. “We feel we need a good size reserve, given sales tax fluctuations,” he said. “As you know, we rely on sales tax for our funding.” The Mountain Express also has a $175,000 fund balance that is earmarked for matching funds to purchase new buses. “The bottom line is that in 2012 we about broke even,” Keiser said. “In 2013, we anticipate about the same. We are applying for a grant for three new buses in 2014. In fact, Crested Butte councilperson Roland Mason reported this month that grants had been approved for the three new buses. Artists...get your paint brushes ready! “We’re not flush but we feel okay where we are,” he continued. “Our services seem adequate and good so we don’t plan any changes to our routes or services at this time.” Overall, the fleet is comprised of 12 36-foot buses and five 26-foot-long buses. The 12 large buses are used for the town shuttle, while the smaller buses service the Condo Loops in Mt. Crested Butte. The large buses average 12 years old and 163,000 miles. The small buses are the same age but have an average of only 119,000 miles. As it has been for decades now, the bus service is free and is one of the most popular services in the area.