Next stop, Base Village: Skico plans on sending shuttles to new development | AspenTimes.com

Next stop, Base Village: Skico plans on sending shuttles to new development

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest expect most free skier shuttles from Aspen to Snowmass to go only to the proposed Base Village.

Now, skier shuttle buses grind up Brush Creek Road to the Snowmass Village mall. Skiers then get off the bus and walk down a retail corridor to reach the lifts on Fanny Hill.

In the future, if Base Village is built and managed as proposed, most, if not all, skier shuttles would go directly to a new transit plaza at the bottom of Fanny Hill.

Then skiers would ride an escalator up to a village plaza and walk through a new retail corridor to reach the lifts.

Are the thousands of skiers who take the free skier shuttle from Aspen to Snowmass going to prefer to get off at the mall or at Base Village?

And will they have to choose between buses at Rubey Park labeled “Base Village” and “Snowmass Mall?”

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These are old questions in Snowmass Village. They got some new answers at a town planning commission meeting Wednesday.

The now weekly review of the project, which includes 683 condos and a million square feet of development, focused on transportation issues.

Don Schuster, Skico vice president of real estate development, told the planning board that the company has long expected that most day skiers would go directly to Base Village if they had the choice.

And that has long spooked those vested in the mall who have questioned several earlier Base Village proposals.

“Nobody may want to go to the existing mall,” pointed out Jim Gustafson, a veteran Snowmass planning commission member. “It’s a delicate conceptual issue that needs to be carefully considered.”

The Skico’s stance on the day-skier buses surprised Pat Lido, who manages the section of the Snowmass Village mall closest to the current RFTA bus platform.

“We were told time and time again that there was no way they could handle the brunt of the transit,” Lido said about the Skico’s position on buses going to Base Village.

But Intrawest and the Skico don’t want all the RFTA buses heading to Snowmass to go directly to Base Village. Just the skier shuttles.

The Skico pays over $1 million a year to RFTA to cover the costs of the skier shuttles, which move about 650,000 people each winter, most of them from Aspen to Snowmass and back.

“It’s a hot potato,” conceded Schuster, who pointed out that the Skico does, after all, pay for the skier shuttles.

“We want to see how it works from the perspective of the customer,” he said, adding that in the proposed Base Village, “you end up at the bottom of the hill at the end of the day.”

And under Intrawest’s scenario for the new village, the RFTA buses would get to Base Village on a realigned Brush Creek Road.

Today, the main road into Snowmass Village climbs to the level of the Conoco gas station. There the road splits left toward the ski area and continues right up to the mall.

Most of the traffic goes left onto Wood Road, but all the RFTA buses today head to the right on upper Brush Creek Road.

Under the Skico proposal, the valley fare buses from RFTA would continue to climb the outer road to the mall.

But the skier shuttle buses would swing left with the alignment of the new section of road, cross a new bridge over a renovated Brush Creek waterway and then pull into the new Base Village transit plaza.