Avon-to-Beaver Creek bus service approved | VailDaily.com

Avon-to-Beaver Creek bus service approved

AVON, Colorado – The night before Beaver Creek opened, the town of Avon and the Beaver Creek Resort Company approved an agreement for bus service between town and the resort. But the schedule didn’t really make anyone happy.

In the wake of voters’ refusal to boost the town’s sales tax to fund more bus service, the town and resort company worked until the last minute on a contract for service. The good news is that riders will no longer have to ride a bus from a lodge to Avon’s transit center, then catch a second bus up the hill. The bad news is that there won’t be as many hours of service this season as last.

The biggest hole will come in the middle of the day. No buses will run between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Filling that hole would require the town to find another $50,000 to 75,000, a tough job given the town’s tight 2012 budget.

One obvious alternative – using Beaver Creek’s buses to augment the town’s service – isn’t possible because of strings attached to federal grants that have helped fund the town’s bus service. Those grants don’t allow towns to contract out bus service to any group that isn’t a “qualified provider.”

With that option unavailable, the town and the resort are faced with some hard choices.

Council member Chris Evans said filling the hole in daily service is essential, especially for families with kids.

“When you’re teaching kids to ski… after a couple of runs you’re coming down,” Evans said. “There are (transportation) alternatives, but you’re not going to do that with a four-year-old.”

Resort company president Tim Baker said he was disappointed that the town and resort couldn’t come up with better alternatives than the one approved Tuesday. While Baker said bus service to the resort with no transfers is a great idea, an almost inevitable problem will be too many people wanting to ride too few buses. That will leave some guests left standing at bus stops while a full bus rolls past.

The most aggravating part, Baker said, is that the town and the resort company could provide more service for the same amount of money being spent now, but can’t do it because of grant restrictions.

While Baker and council members all said they’d work to improve service this season, Mayor Rich Carroll said the town and the resort company need to start working now on providing better service for the 2012-13 season.

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