Vail Daily column: Transit for the masses
The air brakes hissed as the bus came to its denominated stop. As the doors opened, room was made for disembarking passengers and then riders flooded on, most of them confident in their grasp of their equipment and routine. Trailing slightly behind the wave was an obvious neophyte to the rituals of this specific tribe. With skis, poles, boots, goggles, and expression askew, she struggled to locate a resting place for her burdens.
Most were oblivious to her plight, ensconced as they were in the entrancements of their minds or communication devices. A few, although not openly mocking, wore disdainful expressions indicative of their self-identification as guardians of the elitism of their endeavors. Emerging from this muddle was a savior who possessed no special powers other than kindness. He cleared a path, helped her get situated, and then offered words of advice and encouragement for the remainder of the journey. It was a shining example of how public transit connects us to each other, affords us opportunities to be better in a way that driving by ourselves cannot.
The puzzling decision to begin charging for parking at once-free lots in Beaver Creek has the local populace scrambling for ways to access our beloved slopes without endangering the already shoestring budgets on which we subsist. There being no reasonable question that the new policy should have been imposed in a way much more coincident with good public relations, the chasm of distrust between residents and their corporate overlord grew even wider. One need not condone the new costs (which were particularly ludicrous when only a token amount of runs were open) in order to embrace the possibilities for personal growth and change.
Change it up
We are creatures of habit. We carpool with the same crews, ski the same lines, talk to the same people at parties, do what makes us feel comfortable. While convenient and predictable, it does not make our lives any more interesting. We lose the chance to live differently. We cannot grow and learn if we respond only to our normal, rote inputs. Most importantly, by staying insulated in our own circles, we do not train ourselves to interact positively with groups that are different than us.
Public transit homogenizes the community; something that is typically a negative is transmogrified into a positive. There are no locals vs. visitors, no rich vs. poor, no male vs. female, no old vs. young. We are all just passengers awaiting our next destination. The relative anonymity of the bus ride, combined with the short duration, incentivizes one to be a different version of oneself: looser, friendlier, quirkier, louder. A Valley veteran will sit next to a person who has just seen snow for the first time. Each has the potential to benefit, if only they are smart enough to start a conversation. The former will be reminded of what it was like to be new in town; will find inspiration to recapture that wonder. The latter will be pleased to gain an insider’s perspective without being vibed by a snooty local.
Although these intra- and interpersonal perks are powerful, it is not just the commoners who should be forced to adapt to changed circumstances.
The Role of Vail Resorts
With the increased income realized from raised parking rates, soon Vail Resorts should have enough additional funds in their coffers to make a serious investment in the local public transit infrastructure. The company has stated that its new policies are meant to assure the best guest experience.
Accordingly, there should be no hesitation on its part to fund an affordable, convenient, and efficient system of transportation that will allow everyone, locals and visitors alike, to capture the splendor of the resorts and their environs.
And, to the extent that the company cares as much as it professes, one can imagine the tremendous positive impact that such a gesture would have on the woeful current relationship between the corporation and the people on whose backs its gargantuan profits are made.
Cynics have posited that Vail Resorts has just spun the situation to distract from a blatant money grab. Even if this is true, there is now a chance to change the dialogue.
Our local municipalities understand the importance of mass transit. Avon has made a great first leap with its free skier shuttle and the Town of Vail has had a good system in place for years, but this Valley is larger than two towns. With a fractured governmental structure, the obvious choice to unite us in motion is the behemoth that operates the reasons that everyone lives or comes here.
In this season of giving, a modern, showpiece transportation system would be the greatest gift of all.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.