Skico boosts X Games busing | AspenTimes.com

Skico boosts X Games busing

Janet Urquhart

Local governments, satisfied that their concerns about crowd safety have been addressed, are willing to put $100,000 toward busing spectators to and from the Winter X Games at Buttermilk over the next two years.Elected officials from Aspen, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County, meeting jointly on Thursday, approved the expenditure after a Skico representative outlined plans to increase evening bus capacity at next January’s games by 40 percent.Upper-valley officials have been adamant that the games not result in what some of them dubbed the “mass migration” of pedestrians who hoofed it from Buttermilk to downtown Aspen when the bus system bogged down during last winter’s events.The crowds shifted from Buttermilk to town for two nights of free concerts in Wagner Park, but long waits for buses prompted many spectators to hit the highway in the dark.”We are very lucky we didn’t have a major tragedy last year,” said Patti Clapper, Pitkin County commissioner.For the coming year, the Skico has already arranged commitments for increased service from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and bus systems in Snowmass Village, Vail and Rocky Mountain National Park. The Skico has secured a “substantial increase” in buses and drivers, the company said in a memo.Evening bus capacity will be increased by 40 percent and security personnel will be in place at key spots to deter foot traffic, according to Ryan Miller, event marketing manager for the Skico.In addition, the Skico is working with ESPN, which produces the games, to make sure the scheduling of events accommodates the movement of the crowd.”We’re taking a hard look at the scheduling … to alleviate that crunch,” he said.”I want [ESPN] to know there’s not going to be a half-hour when people are trying to get into town,” stressed Commissioner Dorothea Farris.During a prior review of last winter’s X Games, some city officials suggested the main evening events at Buttermilk and the concerts in town occur simultaneously – forcing spectators to choose one or the other and eliminating a sudden, mass exodus from Buttermilk.”I don’t think we necessarily want to split the crowd,” Miller said.Ideally, spectators can partake of all the action, he said.The $50,000 allocation to transit in 2006 and 2007 is up from the $20,000 the upvalley governments provided for the X Games in each of the last two winters. The 2007 funds are contingent on things going well in 2006.The funds come from sales tax revenues dedicated to transit and controlled by the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, which consists of the elected officials from the three upvalley jurisdictions.Transportation costs have gone up 350 percent over the initial two runnings of the Winter X Games at Buttermilk, in 2002 and 2003, according to the Skico.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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