Ben Lawton: Reduced Fraser shuttle service will starve goose that lays the golden eggs
Bottom line up front: Out-of-town skiers/riders are the geese that lay the golden eggs for both Winter Park Resort (WPR) and the towns of Winter Park and Fraser. Anything that detracts from the appeal of WP as ski resort is inevitably going to have a negative impact on the economy of the region and, specifically, on that of WPR.
WPR is a business. As such it must meet its bottom line. Cutting the Red and Purple lines, however, is not the way to accomplish this goal.
A free shuttle is one of the things ski resorts do to make themselves more attractive to skiers/riders. However, the shuttle in the Fraser Valley is much more than that.
The traffic along highway 40 is already horrendously congested during ski season weekends and holidays. Imagine the effect of adding thousands of cars. Think of the air pollution. And where are they going to park? There already isn’t enough parking at the resort.
Brian Lence wrote that “Resort shuttle issues begs for a solution.” He is correct. Among the possible solutions:
• Raise taxes. Not a popular idea, but the shuttle is essential to keep the local economy going. Tax transient accommodations. Increase the sales tax. What are residents willing to pay to keep their jobs and to continue to live in this beautiful valley?
• Charge user fees. Sell bus passes with lift tickets: by the day, multiple days, week, and season. According to WPR representative C.A. Lane, “the Purple and Red lines in the Fraser area [have] cost on average $250,000 annually.” Assuming the 20,000 to 40,000 skier/rider visits from guests in the Fraser area cited by Lence, the cost should be infinitesimal. WPR could include/hide the cost of the bus pass in that of the lift ticket.
• Improve parking. WPR must emulate Copper Mountain’s remote parking system. Ideally there should be major parking areas serviced by shuttles near Fraser and near Winter Park.
Skiers/riders who don’t get caught in traffic jams tend to be happy skiers/riders and will come time and again and buy condos and homes (as so many of us have) and tell their friends who will come time and again.
Bottom line: Feed the geese and you will continue to collect the golden eggs.
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West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.