Avon gondola works well for bus riders | VailDaily.com

Avon gondola works well for bus riders

Matt Terrell
Vail CO, Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyBus riders say the new Avon gondola is a convenient way to get onto Beaver Creek Mountain.

AVON, Colorado ” Randal Paxton is an Eagle resident, snowboarder and bus rider, which means hitting the Beaver Creek slopes takes a little extra time.

Some days it takes an hour or more of bus rides and waiting before he ever gets to a chairlift, he said.

That’s why he likes the new gondola that connects Avon to the Landing at Beaver Creek Mountain, where after a free 3-minute ride, he can hop onto chair 15. It shaves some time off his already long commute and he doesn’t have to ride a parking lot bus up to the slopes, he said.

“This way is more peaceful,” he said.

The gondola from Avon to Beaver Creek opened a little over two weeks ago. It’s part of the $500 million Riverfront Village development, which is centered around the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, expected to open Summer 2008.

It’s not getting a lot of users yet, but for walkers and bus riders who know, it is becoming a handy way to get to the mountain. The gondola is a short walk from Avon Station, the new transit hub on Benchmark Road, which is the main stop in Avon for town, county and ski shuttle buses.

The gondola, for all practical purposes, is for people who walk or ride buses. Two-hour parking is strictly enforced in Avon, and there’s no gondola parking lot. If you want to park and ski, the gondola isn’t a good idea.

Sandra Morse, an Eagle-Vail resident, said she didn’t think it was that much quicker, but it felt more comfortable.

“This was kind of hassle-free,” she said. “I took the bus from Highway 6, and that’s it. It feels like the back road no one takes.”

Morse also said she hoped to see a bus from Beaver Creek Landing to Beaver Creek Village come by more often so she can start on a different part of the mountain. She wishes Avon still had a bus route directly to the village.

Avon leaders have said the gondola will play an important part in the planned revitalization of the downtown area. Planners are hoping to make downtown Avon a bustling core of shops, restaurants, hotels and homes, all anchored on a new “Main Street.”

Ideally, people will walk and ride the bus more than they drive, town planners say, and that’s why the gondola ” which only makes sense to use if you walk or ride a bus ” fits in so well with the town’s future.

Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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