Council seeks more than one stop
The Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) bus stop located in the Four-way Stop area near Sixth Street and Sopris Avenue is getting some heat from neighborhood Crested Butte business owners.
The Crested Butte Town Council has directed the town staff to look into working with the RTA to develop more bus stops to disperse the impact of heavy ridership, and even to look at moving the bus stop in the long-term future.
The council received two letters from local businesses. Cathy Benson of Crested Butte Synergy owns Benson-Sotheby’s International Realty. Liz Satterlee owns the East Side Bistro next door. Both cited RTA riders utilizing their private bathroom; that costs the businesses money in supplies and cleaning expenses. They are not happy with how the contractors left substandard soil in front of their building and thus ruined previously installed landscaping. They feel the shelter blocks the view of the entrance to their businesses. Winter snow storage issues were also a cause for concern.
The issue was brought to the council last fall and the council decided to give the new bus stop location and bus shelter a try for the season.
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie said the Four-way Stop improvement plans had included such a bus stop for years. He said building the three-sided shelter was a last-minute decision made in the fall of 2008.
“I’ve been opposed to the location of that bus stop for a long time and voiced it many times,” said Benson. “It’s an area where people gather and quite a few use our facilities. I think the RTA is an important part of the valley but the location of this stop in front of businesses is not appropriate.”
Councilperson Dan Escalante agreed. “I’ve never thought it was an ideal location,” he said. “I’ve always said putting it closer to the Hitching Post at the south entrance to town is better.”
Mayor Alan Bernholtz wasn’t a supporter of moving the bus stop. “I think we need to focus on how to deal with this location and make it better,” he said.
Councilperson Kimberley Metsch sits on the RTA board. “The RTA has said it can go anywhere the town wants but they prefer it to be on the west side of Sixth Street and they only want one stop so it keeps to a schedule,” she explained. “Alpine Express runs the RTA bus and Stewart Johnson [Alpine Express owner] has said the Hitching Post area isn’t big enough for a bus to pull all the way off the road. I hear you, Cathy. It’s tough but it is so centrally located where it is and that is a benefit.”
Escalante agreed it was a tough issue. “But the location is lacking amenities like public bathrooms that would make it work better.”
Benson suggested routing the bus through a loop around the Visitor Center.
Gillie said that could be geometrically impossible with three tight turns required, especially in the winter when the parking lot is full of vehicles and snow.
“I feel the pain of the businesses,” said Bernholtz. “It’s like no good deed goes unpunished. Here we have a good, successful thing going and someone is getting penalized by it.”
Councilperson Reed Betz suggested putting a sign in the current shelter directing riders to use the public bathrooms at the Visitors Center across the street. “That would at least be a simple attempt at alleviating some of the problem,” he said.
Councilperson Billy Rankin voiced a desire to see the RTA bus loop through town. “I think as ridership increases in the coming years, that could help,” he said.
Bernholtz said the current stop “was totally working where it is. But I’d be willing to work with the RTA to disperse the riders. We have a concern and we need to work together to figure it out. I don’t think it’s fair for the RTA to just put it on us and say it can go anywhere we want, but we can have only one stop. We need more collaboration with the RTA. Maybe it is routed through town. No one will stop riding because it takes another ten minutes. And Reed’s suggestion for a directional sign in the shelter is a no-brainer.”
The council directed the staff to work toward the path of dispersing RTA bus stops. As for the landscaping and snow storage issues, the council also told the affected businesses to work with the staff toward an administrative solution.
Benson said that because snowplowing on Highway 135 is controlled by the state and county, they have plans to talk to the county about the issue in October to see if the snow can be moved when it piles up.