New ski bus launches this weekend from Front Range
Summit Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY – When Ski Bus Colorado launches this weekend, it will be the newest I-70 Coalition partnership geared toward reducing traffic in the mountainous corridor.
The bus departs at 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. from Breeze Ski Rentals and Colorado Ski and Golf locations in Lakewood, Aurora and Littleton and goes directly to Breckenridge or Keystone. The return bus departs the resorts at 4:30 p.m., and tickets are $39.
Another recent partnership is SkiCarpool.com, which encourages skiers and riders to meet new folks, be green, save their cars from wear and tear and save money on gas – and start eliminating the heavy weekend traffic that clogs the Interstate.
“We are looking at every short-term strategy we can to help get cars off the road and support decongestion,” I-70 Coalition program manager Margaret Bowes said.
The two industry partnerships complement the I-70 Coalition’s GoI70.com project, which gives timely information about Interstate 70 traffic and conditions while also giving them tools for avoiding peak travel times and helping ease congestion on the corridor, Bowes said.
Bowes said the ski bus has been discussed over the years, but a private sector partner was needed to get it going. That is, until California’s Bob Aube, a man with a history in servicing sport and entertainment events, saw the opportunity to carry his Lake Tahoe services to the Denver market.
“One thing led to another and there was interest in us providing service … when the I-70 gridlock wasn’t going away,” he said.
He already had Vail Resorts as a partner through his service to Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, so Keystone and Breckenridge made sense as initial destinations, and the company’s Breeze Ski Rentals and Colorado Ski and Golf shops made ideal staging areas.
Then, Aube got in touch with the coalition for increased promotion in exchange for supporting the coalition’s goals.
Aube said every bus eliminates 30 to 40 individuals from Interstate 70 traffic. He has six buses – three per resort – departing the Front Range every Saturday, which means 180 to 240 skiers and riders will be consolidated. That could amount to as many cars on the highway, he said, which “would have to make a difference.”
“No one has tried the bus in many years,” Bowes said. “But with gas prices and traffic, maybe it’s a good time for it.”
It’s a win-win for everyone involved, Aube said, because the resorts want to add skiers, the I-70 Coalition wants to decrease traffic, and he wants to have a successful business enterprise.
There are other modes of mass transportation to the mountains, but Bowes said the ski bus hits a direct demographic: the day traveler who wants direct access to the mountains. Greyhound Lines involves several transfers while lugging equipment, and Vail Resorts’ Colorado Mountain Express is geared toward the multi-day traveler coming in from the airport.
To further address the snowsports market, Aube is selling lift ticket and transportation packages, such as the child package for $93, the senior package for $123 and the adult package for $133.
The goal is to get the service up and running on Saturdays with about eight weeks left in the season, and see what kind of traction it gains. If successful, Aube sees opportunities to expand to Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain, where conversations have already begun. Adding a Sunday to enable overnight stays and season passes for travel may be in the cards, as well.
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Citing the fire threat, the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday closed about 1,555 square miles of forest land in five counties near Colorado’s heavily populated Front Range — an area bigger than the state of Rhode Island.