The city of Ketchum is entertaining a $65,000 cut in the free Mountain Rides bus service that will translate into a $134,000 cut when matching federal grant money is lost along with it. The cut would reduce service and could endanger lives.
Mountain Rides says the reduction would force it to cut the late-night bus that runs until 2 a.m. between Ketchum and Sun Valley.
The bus gained local notoriety last winter when it didn’t have room for 80-100 riders disgorged from the bars who wanted to board. That upset riders, and they damaged the bus in protest.
The bus has many local nicknames—the last-call bus or the hangover bus along with more derogatory monikers. It carries many riders who party in Ketchum until the bars close. Some are visitors staying in Sun Valley; some are resort employees.
The bus also could be called the lifesaver bus. It offers a safer option than driving while intoxicated. It ferries people home who might otherwise make the decision to walk, no matter their condition and no matter the weather.
That can be a lethal decision. It’s cold out there in the winter. Hypothermia is no joke on a snowy night in the mountains with a strong wind blowing. One trip, one fall and boom! Someone could die on the path between the cities.
This newspaper never wants to write that story, but it’s a story that’s been written in other Idaho towns.
As a tourist-based economy, the area spends millions on marketing to bring people here. It’s irresponsible to do so and then fail to protect them when they are most vulnerable.
Ketchum’s motto should not become “The mountains are calling: Eat, drink—freeze to death.” It should fund the late-night bus.