Mountain Rides Transportation Authority has determined that it will not have to cut late-night service on its Blue Route, which connects Warm Springs to Sun Valley and Elkhorn via downtown Ketchum, and runs until 2 a.m. during peak seasons.

The organization’s board made the decision Wednesday, after the Ketchum City Council decided on Monday to restore some Mountain Rides funding that had been proposed to be cut for the 2020 fiscal year.

“The funding cut was really somewhat of a blessing in disguise, with respect to our going back and taking a hard look at our service plan,” Executive Director Wally Morgus said Wednesday. “I think we built efficiencies in there that we didn’t realize were available to us.”

Mountain Rides was considering cutting after-midnight service on the Blue Route during summer if the city pursued a proposed funding cut of $65,000, from $665,000 to $600,000, in fiscal 2020. However, the City Council proposed Monday that $24,700 be given back to Mountain Rides to help prevent a change in service.

“[The mayor] is in full support of Mountain Rides delivering as much service as we can,” board Chairwoman Kristen Derrig said. “He was very positive and optimistic in being able to keep a higher level of service.”

“With this route, people can get home to Warm Springs or Elkhorn and not have to use a taxi service for someone who needs to get to Hailey,” Derrig added.

Board member and Sun Valley Mayor Peter Hendricks said that due to increased revenue stemming from more bus ridership, downtown Ketchum bars and restaurants should pitch in to the Mountain Rides budget.

“I think we should redouble our efforts to have them participate, as far as funding goes,” Hendricks said.

Other items on the agenda Wednesday included reapproving the company’s drug and alcohol policy and reviewing the agency’s July performance report. Last month, Mountain Rides’ fleet of 16 buses received about 18.3 riders per hour, exceeding its goal of 14.

According to board member Rick Webking, the organization’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget shows Ketchum pitching in $624,700. The city of Sun Valley would be the next largest contributor, at $352,500.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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