Aspen Skiing owners helping Vail transit |

Aspen Skiing owners helping Vail transit

ASPEN, Colorado ” The owners of the Aspen Skiing Co. recently purchased a major U.S. bus manufacturer ” one which happens to have a major presence in Vail and none in Aspen.

Henry Crown and Co. purchased the Gillig Corp., a 115-year-old transportation company from Hayward, Calif., in August, according to a transportation industry publication called Metro Magazine.

Henry Crown and Co. is owned by the Crown family of Chicago, whose holdings include the Aspen Skiing Co. Jim Crown, managing partner of the Skico, is president of Henry Crown and Co. The Crowns took control of Gillig through their CC Industries Inc., a firm with vast interests. CCI’s holdings include Great Dane Trailers, so branching further into the transportation industry made sense.

Gillig’s website said it is the second biggest bus maker in the country. Ironically, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which operates the bus system in the Aspen area, doesn’t have any Gillig buses in its fleet. It buys its buses from New Flyer and has a handful of older buses from Neoplan.

ECO Transit, which operates the buses in the Vail area, has a fleet entirely comprised of Gillig buses. All 29 of its buses are Gilligs, and four more have been ordered, said director Harry Taylor.

ECO Transit ordered its first buses from Gillig after a competitive bid in 1992, he said. It stuck with the company because it provides good, reliable vehicles. Holding a competitive bid every time it purchased new buses would be a nightmare, he said, because building a mishmash of a fleet would require the bus agency to stock more parts and train mechanics to deal with nuances of different vehicles. So, ECO Transit, like many transportation companies, sticks with a company it’s come to depend on.

RFTA built a similar relationship with New Flyer. When it shopped for hybrid buses two years ago, it invited Gillig to enter a bid, but the company declined.

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