Survey shows satisfaction with Vail’s parking structures in the winter
What about summer?
There’s been a fairly steady buzz the past two summers that Vail will, at some point, charge for formerly-free summer parking. That point has not yet arrived.
“Calm down, everybody,” Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said. “Summer paid parking is not happening at this point, with this council. When a new council comes in (in November),” it’ll be considered.”
VAIL — Parking is often at a premium here, but a survey of town parking structure users from this past ski season shows people are generally pleased with the way those structures work.
A survey conducted by RRC Associates, a Boulder-based consulting firm, was conducted on weekends from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend into March.
Parking patterns were similar to previous years, although traffic dipped during a snow-short March. That resulted in fewer days when parking spilled onto the town’s frontage roads. And revenue from paid parking dipped from the 2015-16 season to the 2016-17 season. Parking revenue fell from about $4.1 million to slightly more than $3.9 million between those seasons.
About half of the motorists using the structures were day visitors, with another 44 percent being overnight visitors. A full third of overnight visitors were driving rented cars.
Of the overnight guests, the vast majority — 72 percent — stayed somewhere besides Vail. Only 6 percent of structure users were local residents, a decline from the same period in 2016. About one-fourth of structure users said they lived outside of Colorado.
People tend to carpool when they come for a ski day. Locals rode about 1.9 per car, with 2.4 in the average day visitor’s vehicle. Out-of-state users put an average of 2.8 passengers in their vehicles.
More than 80 percent of structure users had a form of ski pass, either an Epic Pass or Epic Local pass. More Epic Pass users parked at Lionshead Village.
Virtually everyone surveyed came to ski.
Council members pondered these and other survey results, as well as information that RRC didn’t track.
Mayor Dave Chapin said “looping” — leaving the structure before being charged and then driving right back in — remains a problem.
“People will move orange cones, insult the staff and then go back down,” Chapin said. “It often happens during busy, busy days.”
Ticketing loopers would take a lot of time and a lot of staff, Chapin said.
The council — either this one or the new council in November — may look at winter rates, which haven’t changed since 2009. If those rates change, then it will have to happen before the ski season begins.
The new council may also look at the town’s free-parking policy — although that may be for the 2018-19 season.
On the other hand, there remains some sentiment to keep the system as it is for this season.
“For the past seven years, we haven’t been inundated with complaints,” council member Dick Cleveland said.