David Peckler to retire from Snowmass transportation department after four decades | AspenTimes.com

David Peckler to retire from Snowmass transportation department after four decades

Department director helped lead growth of local bus system

Longtime Snowmass Village Transportation Director David Peckler chats in his office on Elbert Lane on Monday, April 11, 2022.
Kaya Williams/The Snowmass Sun

If you’ve ridden a bus or parked a car in Snowmass Village any time in the past 40 years, you probably have David Peckler to thank.

The longtime transportation director has worked in the town’s parking and transportation program from the get-go, when Hunt Walker and George Krawzoff set up the original systems in the fall of 1979.

Peckler will retire this spring after 43 years, during which the number of bus routes nearly doubled, the department staff more than quadrupled, the number of vehicles in the fleet grew sixfold and ridership increased by the hundreds of thousands. His retirement party is Friday at The Collective, and his last day is May 6. Sam Guarino, who is currently a transportation supervisor, will fill the director role when Peckler retires, Peckler said in an interview from his office on Elbert Lane above the Snowmass Mall.

The job is well suited to someone personable like Peckler, who credits his start with the department to being “at the right time in the right place” and his longevity to the job’s community-oriented nature.

“You have a lot of interaction with the public, and I guess I’m kind of a performer. … I like working with people,” Peckler said. “You’re doing something good for the environment, trying to help make things work. I think that’s another attractive element of it.”

(He got even more facetime with the public earlier this year when he and his wife, Barb, were named the 2022 Mardi Gras king and queen in Snowmass.)

Mardi Gras royalty Barb and Dave Peckler toss beads to the crowd in Snowmass Base Village on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. The two met in Snowmass in 1982 and have lived and worked in the Roaring Fork Valley ever since. (Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun)

When Peckler started, the transportation department was a five-van operation with a dozen or so employees servicing four routes around the region.

Today, the department counts nearly 50 workers among its ranks and 29 vehicles; buses cover seven routes over a much larger geographic area compared with the original four; the system that carried 230,000 passengers in 1979 transported more than 800,000 at its peak in 1998 and around 600,000 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a memo Peckler provided recapping what he humbly titled “information on activities while at the town.” (Ridership during the pandemic dropped to about 350,000 people per year but is already back on the up-and-up, he said.)

Peckler has been instrumental in that growth. After four years as a seasonal transit supervisor from 1979-1983, Peckler moved up to the year-round assistant director of transportation, supervising parking, buses and a softball league under the department. In 1992, he became transportation manager; after a decade in the role, he became transportation director, a role he has held ever since.

He helped with the launch of regional offseason service with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which created year-round local service and employment for bus drivers, and helped the town take over Rodeo Lot park-and-ride service from RFTA to boost service frequency, he wrote in the memo.

He oversaw the design and much of the construction on the stone and timber bus shelters that still exist throughout the village today, and worked with Susan Hamley and a marketing team to update the bus graphics from the 1970s rainbow colors to today’s blue and green design. For 25 years he has participated in advisory committees for regional planning efforts and has lately provided input in ongoing conversations about the Snowmass Mall Transit Center now in the works, too.

In the past two decades, he has brought in nearly $29 million in grant funding for the Village Shuttle, including $11 million in grants for transit service operations and vehicle purchases and two grants totaling another $18 million for the transit center on the mall, he wrote in the memo.

He adopted seasonal employee benefits to encourage retention and takes pride in the culture and camaraderie in a department of staff who he said will “bend over backwards to try and help people.” That’s something he’ll miss in retirement, he said.

“The staff are an incredible bunch of employees and friends to work with,” Peckler said. “I’ll miss them all. I’ll miss having that camaraderie (and) feeling probably that you’re doing something really productive for the community. It’s been a lot of service to the community.”

Oh, and also: He sang on a John Denver album once, joining the Dickens Carolers on Denver’s “Merry Christmas Aspen” album after years of spreading holiday cheer in the village with the carolers. That’s in the memo, too.