Vail estimates revenue loss of $50,000 after parking system goes down
A nearly six-hour outage of the town’s credit card processor meant free parking for all
A number of lucky skiers, guests and residents got free parking in Vail on Saturday, Feb. 4, when the town experienced an outage of its parking system.
The town experienced a widespread outage of the credit card processor used for its parking operations. The town is estimating it lost approximately $50,000 in revenue when the system was down.
Greg Hall, the town’s director of public works and transportation, reported on Feb. 7 that Windcave, the credit card processor used by the town’s parking systems, had experienced a “worldwide” outage.
All in, the system was down for around six hours, Hall said.
While the town has a backup plan for internet outages, it is now researching plans for “dual redundancy” on credit card processing should something similar happen again, he added.
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In a status report in the Feb. 21 meeting packet, town staff reported that the town “has no recourse based on the contract with Windcave,” but is “actively pursuing answers and solutions from Windcave to prevent future outages.”
A new system
This was the first outage with the town’s new parking system, which it implemented at the start of ski season alongside rate increases and pass changes.
The new parking program was implemented in an effort to better manage peak days in the town, reduce frontage road parking overflow, encourage other modes of travel, improve safety in town, and more.
The new program was met with criticism from many local residents and employees who cited concerns about the higher prices, the timing of overnight parking charges, and opening some of the historically employee-designated lots to the public.
Despite the complaints, the town has touted the program as a success due to the rise in bus ridership as well as a reduction in the number of days the village parking garages have filled.
In its goals with the new system, the town set a goal to only utilize overflow parking on the South Frontage Road for 15 days in the season. Last ski season, it used this overflow parking for 53 days.
As of Monday, Feb. 20, the Vail Village parking structure has filled 34 days and the Lionshead structure 17 days. This means that the town has utilized the frontage road overflow spots 17 days this season, already over its target goal of 15 days.
The most recent overflow day was on Friday, Feb. 17, when the town had 270 cars parked on the frontage road. However, the town had no other overflow days during the holiday weekend.
Last year, over President’s Day weekend, the town had two days of overflow — on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, and Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 — with 400 and 163 cars on the frontage road, respectively.
Early in the season, some local employees had expressed concerns that opening some of the town’s outlying lots to the general public would result in less parking for the workforce. The town said that the Red Sandstone structure filled twice during weekends while the structure’s second floor was under construction. However, since that lot opened fully, both the Red Sandstone and Ford Park lots have only completely filled once this season, on Jan. 28.