Vail winter parking rates going up for the first time in years | SkyHiNews.com

Vail winter parking rates going up for the first time in years

Scott Miller / Vail Daily

Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall told the Vail Town Council that the ultimate goal of raising parking prices is to drive down demand, particularly with the Blue, Green and Pink passes.

VAIL — Parking here is a limited commodity, but prices at the town's paid parking facilities has been unchanged for nearly a decade. That changes when the 2017-18 ski season begins Nov. 17.

The Vail Town Council at its Tuesday, Oct. 3, meeting approved parking rates for the coming winter. To take on the task of re-pricing a host of parking products, the town relied on a task force made up of residents, business representatives and local government officials.

A number of rates are going up, including those for season parking passes. Pass prices were a matter of some debate on the council, since one of the most popular passes — the Pink — is ultimately cheaper than riding Eagle County's ECO Transit buses. That pass price is rising from $150 to $200 per season, but don't be surprised if Pink passes increase in price again next year.

The parking task force originally recommended doubling the price of the Pink pass, which allows parking at Ford Park and the town's soccer fields. Council members believed that was too steep of a year-over-year increase.

Council members also went for a lower-than-recommended price on the Blue pass, which allows daily parking at the Lionshead Village structure. That pass, the town's most popular, will rise in price from $1,100 to $1,250.

Vail actually loses money each year on what it collects from parking. Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall told the council that the ultimate goal of raising parking prices is to drive down demand, particularly with the Blue, Green and Pink passes.

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SUPPLY, DEMAND AND PRICING

Demand often outstrips supply for the 250 spaces available to Pink pass holders. More people using ECO would free up more supply.

But, council members said, ECO bus service to Vail needs to improve before transit becomes a realistic option for many employees. And a monthly ECO pass is $85, making Vail's Pink pass "the bargain of the century," council member Jenn Bruno said.

"If we make it this easy to drive, why would the county improve bus service?" council member Greg Moffet said.

Moffet recommended bringing in the Eagle County Commissioners to talk about bus service and pricing.

Pass buyers aren't the only parking customers who will see some big increases. The daily cost of parking in the structures for between four and 15 hours will see a modest rise — from $25 to $30. That can accommodate the mostly local customers who use that parking. But council members said some hotels in town either don't have their own parking or recommend that guests use less-expensive town parking. For those who park between 15 and 24 hours in the structure, the rate is going from $25 to $50.

Mayor Dave Chapin told the council that during peak periods, there can be 200 to 300 cars parked for 24-hour periods in the structures. A large charge will encourage guests to either use hotel parking or not bring cars to Vail.

Moffet said the new charges are at least the start of an effort to modify behavior with parking prices.

If parking gets expensive enough, then lodges that don't have their own parking will tell guests not to bring cars to Vail, he said.

CHANGES FOR DAILY RATES

At the less-expensive end of the parking spectrum, the town has also dropped its free-parking time from two hours to 90 minutes. Parking up to two hours will cost $5, and the town is working on a way for businesses to buy vouchers to give to customers who are coming into town for a meal or some shopping.

For those who park between two and three hours, the price is dropping to $10 from the previous $15.

While rates for the coming winter see many changes, this council isn't yet ready to talk about charging for summer parking.

Half-jokingly, Chapin at the meeting wouldn't even say "charging for summer parking," preferring instead to call it "managing" the supply.

If the town ever does decide to charge for summer parking, then it's likely that winter parking passes will be good in the summer, too.

And it may not be so long before the council again tackles parking rates.

"Shame on us for not touching this for 10 years," Moffet said. "We'd be better off with a 3 percent per year increase."

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