Editorial: The ghost train to nowhere
Vail CO, Colorado
The town of Avon should consider how much might be gained from one of its latest unpopular cutbacks.
A new hotel in Avon has collaborated with Beaver Creek Resort to build a gondola from the hotel to the mountain. This effectively creates a direct link from the town to the slopes, so Avon officials have taken the opportunity to discontinue town shuttle service to Beaver Creek Village.
The trade-off isn’t as equal as it might sound. The new gondola doesn’t go to the village. It doesn’t even come close. Some Avon residents and guests might enjoy using it to dodge the hustle and bustle of the village, but the situation also will require twice as many chairlift rides to reach the top of the mountain.
The gondola will only carry passengers as an ancillary benefit, anyway. It stretches over a busy section of U.S. Highway 6, and each of its cars has the hotel’s name printed on the front.
What Avon residents are looking at overhead as they drive past the Elk Lot isn’t for them. It’s a big, motorized billboard.
Luckily, Beaver Creek still has its own free shuttle service from the highway to the village, and it stops near the top of the new gondola. It’s not as convenient for people who’d rather walk straight to a bus from their homes or rooms in Avon, but hey, everyone has to make sacrifices sometimes.
The Buffalo Ridge affordable-housing complex and Wal-Mart, for example, recently lost their own Avon shuttle route. Messy finger-pointing between the town and the developer aside, this was no mere skier shuttle. It carried people to their jobs. It took them home in the snow and rain. It let them buy milk and diapers. And for some, it was the only means for them to do any of these things.
So the new gondola’s a sham. Let the Westin have its ghost train. And if it’s an excuse for Avon to free up some revenue, all the better. Let’s just hope the town does the right thing with the money it’s saving by killing the Beaver Creek shuttle.
” Evan Gibbard for the Editorial Board