MTA kicks off summer tourist season with Ride the Rockies
Ride the Rockies rolled through Grand County last week as thousands of cyclists pedaled their way from Copper Mountain to Grand Lake.
To help ride participants, support teams and event staff get around Ride organizers hired bus companies from the high country to shuttle people between various locations on the route. Grand County’s Mountain Transit Adventures (MTA) was among those called upon to help.
“Ride the Rockies came to Grand Lake and they asked if we could supply transit,” said MTA owner Kurt Spencer. “They called the next day and asked if we could go to Aspen. They called again the next day and asked if we could supply two busses.”
Eventually MTA’s efforts would include four busses and a twelve-passenger van. Their work kicked off in Aspen with the beginning of the Ride and continued through the tour’s second stop in Carbondale. Spencer speculated MTA moved approximately 3,000 people over the course of two days between Aspen and Carbondale.
As the riders on the tour moved into Grand County on the fourth day of Ride the Rockies MTA kicked into high gear. Spencer estimated the business transported between 1,500 and 2,000 people in the Grand Lake area alone. Spencer said Ride the Rockies was, “a wonderful way to get our season started. It was a test of our system.”
The MTA crew is staffed with five CDL drivers. Spencer said most of his drivers work for the East Grand School District during the school year. The business utilizes a total of five busses and two twelve-passenger vans to move folks around.
Mountain Transit Adventures began operating last year and is a business venture between Valley Taxi owner Kurt Spencer and Elmer Lanzi of the Grand Lake area. Spencer recently leased out his Valley Taxi business and is focused full time on MTA.
Former Grand Lake Trustee Elmer Lanzi purchased two busses in late 2014 with plans of creating MTA. Last summer the bussing service operated regular bus routes in the Grand Lake area with prescheduled stops at specific locations. The initial business model for MTA was not particularly successful. At the end of last summer Lanzi described the season as, “disappointing”. Spencer echoed his opinion.
“Our dismal season last year has completely turned around this year,” said Spencer. “We are already looking at an almost completely full scheduled and we have barely begun the summer.”
The company’s new business model moved away from standard bussing routes to a charter based service wherein customers booked trips to and from their own desired locations. Spencer said MTA is focusing more on groups and is already doing brisk business with wedding parties. The bussing service began operations again this summer on June 1 and is booked with wedding parties every weekend for the summer.
Spencer said MTA is also looking into excursions and will be expanding their market beyond Grand County, providing transportation to places like Coors Field, Red Rocks and other locations along the Front Range. Spencer said MTA is also available for brewery tours and dispensary tours but pointed out that while passengers are allowed to drink on a chartered bus they are not allowed to smoke marijuana.
In talking about the future outlook for MTA Spencer said, “it is definitely an improvement from last year. We have a serious business going. We have a little niche we can fill.”
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Winter Park approved an across-the-board raise for town staff that had initially been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic’s expected impact on the budget.