VAIL, Colorado - The dawn of ski season also brings some minor changes to Vail's bus service and the parking program.
Most of the winter's bus service and parking scene is familiar. More buses run more often than in the spring, fall and summer - with the full winter schedule kicking off Dec. 10 - and paid parking returns to the town's structures at Vail Village and Lionshead.
Paid parking begins at 6 a.m. Friday in the Vail Village and Lionshead parking structures. In addition, the lots at Ford Park and the soccer field east of Golden Peak will become permit parking for employees.
Free parking is available for the first two hours in the structures, and after 3 p.m. Day rates are $20 for three to four hours, and $25 for parking between four and 24 hours in the structures.
Those are the same rates charged last year.
Mike Rose, who runs the parking and transit programs for the town, said the only significant changes to parking are the elimination of parking on North Frontage Road at the Middle Creek apartments. Rose said there's a little less pass parking at Ford Park because of a construction project there this winter.
In addition, there have been a few changes to the town's "Silver" parking pass program for those who have a town business license. More of those passes are available this year. But, Rose said, Silver pass sales haven't hit their limits in the past few years.
For those who'd rather park for free, the town has several spots available, and bus service to take people to the slopes.
Those spots are available from 7 a.m.-11 p.m, and sites include: Gore Creek Trailhead, East Vail Interchange Trailhead, Pitkin Creek Trailhead, Booth Falls Trailhead, Spraddle Creek Trailhead, Red Sandstone Creek Trailhead, Buffehr Creek Trailhead, Davos Trailhead and Red Sandstone Park.
Free parking will also be available at Donovan Park, with 90 spaces on days when the pavilion isn't in use. Another 35 free skier parking spaces are at the Vail Nordic Center at the golf course Monday through Thursday. The lot will be closed to skier parking Friday through Sunday throughout the season as well as Dec. 24-Jan. 1; Jan. 21 and Feb. 18. Parking availability for both locations will be updated regularly on www.vaileventparking.com.
First-come, first-served free skier parking, 70 spaces, will be available on the North Frontage Road across from the West Vail Mall seven days a week from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Additional free skier parking, 100 spaces, will be available on the North Frontage Road west of the West Vail roundabout on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Free "overflow" parking along the South Frontage Road will again be available this season, six temporary bus stops will be in use along the Frontage Road.
"Ride the free bus, or ride the (county) bus," Rose said. "There's plenty of free or inexpensive bus service so you can leave your car at home."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.