By Matt Kroschel

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– For people who live in or visit Steamboat Springs, riding the bus is a free perk. But it has been an expensive operation for the town, until now.

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Across Colorado, several mountain towns received some major financial relief when it comes to public transportation. That also means an upgrade.

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Transit director Jonathan Flint showed off the first of what he says will be the fleet of the future in Steamboat Springs on Thursday—hybrid buses.

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He says all of the additions are made possible by millions in federal grants awarded to Colorado, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Jonathan Flint (credit: CBS)

“It’s something for a small community like us to provide 80 percent of the funding for this equipment. Not only does it allow us to buy equipment, it allows us to buy the really nice equipment,” Flint told CBS4.

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In total, state transit just received nearly $16 million.

A total of 107 projects in 50 states and territories will receive funding from FTA’s Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program, according to information released by the US Transportation Administration.

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The Roaring Fork Valley, Fort Collins, Mesa County, RTD, and Durango, all splitting that money to make the transit systems better.

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“There are a lot of transportation systems in the mountains here and it is something that helps, especially the gas. Tourists, when they come to town, they don’t have to worry about driving there able to take advantage of this public transportation,” Flint added.

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Steamboat Springs transit officials say they will continue replacing the aging current diesel busses with the hybrids over the next few years.

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Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.