After fielding several complaints about the Lawson Hill service last month, San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) reported Thursday that the route was monitored and changes were made to correct some issues, including lateness.
SMART operations manage Erich Lange explained a second vehicle was added to the route from 8-9 a.m. during school days, when traffic is worse, which delays buses.
“Having that additional vehicle is helping us hit our time points. Hopefully, that continues to be the case,” he said. “ … Traffic is still a big issue.”
San Miguel County Commissioner Kris Holstrom, who was elected the new SMART vice chair Thursday, suggested involving the school district in traffic discussions. Other than trying to reduce traffic, she said emissions should also be a concern.
“We’re adding a vehicle. We’re adding gas emissions. We’re adding costs,” she said.
The additional operating cost of temporarily adding another vehicle to the route is “nominal,” according SMART Executive Director David Averill explained.
“I’m happy that things are looking like they’re going in the right direction, but this is something we’re going to stay on throughout the school year,” he added.
Ride-alongs with service provider Telluride Express identified driver irregularities, including picking up passengers who aren’t at designated bus stops. SMART officials talked about the possibility of creating a policy regarding the random stops, but thought it would be too much. Instead, officials stressed the importance of using designated bus stops, since the minutes it may take to make an extra, unscheduled stop could throw off the timeline for the entire day.
SMART’S 2020 OUTLOOK
After finalizing a strategic operating plan before the new year, the next step is implementing it. Averill explained the first order of business is adding an Ophir stop the Southern Route that services Rico. Officials have discussed the best location for a safe and easily accessible bus stop, but haven’t decided on anything yet. Similarly, additional stops in Ilium and Two Rivers on the Down Valley route are being considered, as the focus on where to create a designated pickup point is the current focus.
“We want to work with (San Miguel County Roads Superintendent Ryan Righetti) and his crew on where is a good, safe spot to do that,” Averill said.
Stops in Ophir, Ilium and Two Rivers could be implemented as early as the end of the spring offseason, Averill explained.
Later in the year, the same process will be used to expand service into Redvale and Naturita on the current Norwood route.
“We have some work to do there with the communities that might not know that we’re coming,” Averill said. “It’s sort of the same conversations we’re having with Two Rivers. What stop times work for you? Where would you like us to stop in your town?”
SMART will also be conducted a electric bus feasibility study throughout the year, thanks to a CDOT grant.
Averill broke down the year by quarters in creating a roadmap of sorts, but added nothing is set in stone.
“We might need to make some changes,” he said.
BIKE SHARE PROJECT
CDOT granted SMART just over $100,000 for a bike share program that will also be developed throughout the year. SMART will put an additional $25,000 towards the project. The idea is to create three stations — potentially at the Lawson Hill intercept lot, the Telluride gondola station and somewhere in the Mountain Village Core — with 10 bikes at each. Riders would use an app to rent the bikes. The fees have not been discussed, but a pay-to-ride system typically works better since riders are financially responsible for the bikes, Averill said.
The bikes would be available from the end of spring offseason to the beginning of the fall offseason, and be aimed toward visitors more so than locals. The project could be complete and rolled out in spring 2021.