Bus routes escape Vail budget cuts
“If all the people who called me would be riding those buses, I would have never considered cutting them,” he said Tuesday, adding that the two routes – the Lionsridge Loop and the Golf Course route – had been singled out because of low passenger numbers.
Two weeks ago that he is contemplating cutting the two routes for a total cost savings of $200,000 annually.
Vail’s Public Transportation Director Mike Rose said Lionsridge Loop, which services neighborhoods on the hillside east of Vail Commons, transported a total of 20,298 people last year. The Golf Course Route, which follows South Frontage Road to the Vail Municipal Golf Course to Vail Valley Drive, saw 17,400 more passengers.
Both routes are low compared to others, such as the in-town shuttle, which moves as many as 1.7 million people per year, or the West Vail loop, with about 600,000.
For now, the two routes are safe and will be operated as part of the town’s five routes, which serves almost 3 million passengers annually.
Town Council members said Tuesday public transportation is not where they want to make cuts – despite few “transparent” cost savings options left to reach the council’s goal of eliminating $1 million out of the town’s $21 million operating fund.
“We have made a number of transparent cuts, the ones that aren’t really cuts, like I really drag my feet on hiring people and we save money that way,” McLaurin said.
The council asked McLaurin to tighten the town’s day-to-day spending belt in September to demonstrate financial responsibility as the town is preparing to ask voters to pay more property taxes. The town spends close to $3.3 million on public transportation.
Rose said the town pays about $5 per each mile a bus is driven, with the fleet of buses logging about half a million miles per year. In comparison, the town spends about $1.5 million on fire protection and $3.4 million on police protection.
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at email@example.com.