Friday, April 11, 2014

Mountain Rides adjusts to ‘slack’

Bus service being reduced in Ketchum-Sun Valley area

Express Staff Writer

A Mountain Rides Transportation Authority Red Route bus, at left, is shown here at Elkhorn Village with a Blue Route bus before both buses start their different routes to the Ketchum area. Both routes will be affected when “slack” officially starts on April 21. Photo by Roland Lane

     As the ski season winds down, Mountain Rides Transportation Authority has been scaling back its bus service in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area and will make additional route reductions when “slack” officially starts on April 21.

     The start of slack in the spring generally coincides with the closure of lifts on Bald Mountain. Sun Valley Resort has announced that the last day of the ski season is Sunday, April 20.

     Mountain Rides has already eliminated some of its bus routes for the season, including the Bronze Route, which runs from Baldy View Circle to the Warm Springs base area, and Red Route No. 2, which runs from Elkhorn Village through south Elkhorn to River Run Plaza and then into Ketchum.

     The Silver Route, which normally shuttles skiers from Baldy View Circle through Ketchum and to River Run Plaza, has not been eliminated for the season but was repositioned effective Thursday to run only between River Run Plaza and the Warm Springs base area.

     Mountain Rides Operations Manager Jim Finch said Thursday that the Silver Route will make that run through April 20 and after that will end for the season. He said repositioning the Silver Route will relieve limited parking at Warm Springs.

     According to the schedule, the Silver Route will run from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., ending at Warm Springs at 5 p.m., on Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Silver Route will operate between 8:45 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. with the last bus leaving Warm Springs at 6 p.m.

     Buses will run every half hour with pickup times at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour at River Run and on the hour and half hour at Warm Springs.

     Finch said new schedules have already been posted at bus stops.

     The organization’s other Ketchum-Sun Valley area routes will also be affected with the start of slack on April 21.

     Red Route No. 1 will be eliminated for the season.

     The Green Route, which runs through the West Ketchum area south to The Meadows, with stops in between at River Run Plaza, will no longer have weekend service as of April 21 but will continue with its normal schedule on Monday through Friday.

     The Blue Route, which runs from Elkhorn Springs through Ketchum and to Warm Springs, will be reduced on April 21 to runs every hour rather than every half hour with the elimination for the season of Blue Route No. 2. Blue Route 1 will continue to operate as usual, starting daily at 7 p.m. at Warm Springs base area and ending daily at 9:30 p.m. at Elkhorn Springs.

     Finch said new signs will be posted at bus stops when the changes go into effect.

     Mountain Rides will end its slack schedule on June 13, when a new bus schedule brochure will be released replacing the current “pink” one.

     Finch said the 2014 summer and fall schedule is expected to be nearly the same as it was in 2013.

Mountain Rides updates city leaders

Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller on Monday told the Ketchum City Council that the organization is enjoying its highest level of ridership in 15 years, with 484,850 riders in 2013. “We’ve been doing really well with growing ridership despite cutting service last year and a decrease in federal funding,” Miller said.

                “Students have been a huge part of our ridership growth,” Miller said. “We estimate 20,000-25,000 riders of our ridership increase has come from the youth demographic.”

                Ketchum City Councilwoman Anne Corrock said she is unsure of how the proposed Mountain Rides transportation hub located next to the Visitor Center would help Ketchum.

                “In terms of economic growth, we’ve done case studies that show it will help the city,” Miller said. “We have operational and ridership benefits from this hub, but there are also broader community benefits. The community intersection will be improved and the area will have greater vitality.”

                Miller said he expects the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission to review the design for the proposed transportation hub later this month. 

—Eric Avissar

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