Vail Valley Voices: Vail’s parking revenue falls off
Vail, CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com
Town of Vail parking revenue was down 35 percent for January, a new twist in Vail’s parking saga.
The downturn is attributed to savvy consumers who have learned that the two hours of free parking is enough time to ride up the mountain and get in a good run down before having to exit and re-enter the town’s parking structure for another two free hours.
Most likely, the town will reduce the free time by a half hour to combat this loss in revenue.
However, private parking lots, a new addition to Vail’s parking options, some with cheaper rates than the town’s parking, are also having an effect on lessening demand. The town may implement a program of demand-based pricing, having less expensive rates on weekdays than on weekends and holidays.
If this fails to turn the revenue ebb-tide, expect the supply of hundreds of free and permit spaces along the Frontage Road, particularly in West Vail, to shrink accordingly.
Some are of the opinion that the flexibility and lower cost of the Epic Pass has created a much more relaxed attitude in contrast to getting in as many runs as possible.
The economy, high parking fees and cell phones have created a new form of commuter carpooling, with a designated driver disembarking their passenger as close to lift-side as persistence will allow, with the driver left to join up later after searching out budget parking.
These changes have decreased demand for town-owned parking spaces, relieving the town of having to spend millions of dollars more on building parking structures, so those funds could be set aside to relieve traffic congestion in impacted residential neighborhoods.
Sales tax gains in January: The town reported a 1.3 percent increase year over year in January sales tax. This season’s snowfall accumulations, which are consistent with other low snow years, may have had a negative effect on lift tax revenue, with January down 6.7 percent from the prior year’s record snowfall season.
Lodging occupancy for February was down 1.2 percent, but room profitability was up due to an $8 increase in room rate over the same month in 2011. Occupancy for March was projected on average to be up by 3.3 percent with room profitability up 5 percent based on a $7 increase in room rates over the prior year.