Shuttle to Red Mountain this season, Gangnam style
Two new shuttle services to Red Mountain Resort have been negotiated for this ski season, one all the way to and from Spokane, and one a short five minute ride between Rossland and Red.
Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland (TR) announced the new services to Rossland’s council at Monday evening’s regular meeting. She was particularly excited by the new in-town shuttle that will use the “pimped out” 24-seat Hummer offered by Lasting Impressions Limousines.
The new in-town shuttle
Steven said it all began when she sat down to brainstorm, after years in which it has been recognized as a potentially good idea that hasn’t taken hold: “What is the problem with having an in-town shuttle?”
“We noticed very quickly that we have a couple of great opportunities,” she said.
First, Steven pointed out that the BC Transit “ski bus” to Red Mountain goes 54 per cent of the days that Red is open. “That’s a lot higher than a lot of us thought,” she said, since the ski bus is limited to weekends and school holidays—but those add up to more than half of the days across the ski season.
“We see an opportunity there to promote that , and let them know it’s going on,” she said. Steven also saw an opportunity to piggy-back on the BC Transit service in a new partnership with the Red Mountain Academies (RMA) to offer a shuttle on most of the days that BC Transit does not offer service, boosting the overall number of ski season days for which a shuttle is available to 89 per cent.
RMA and TR have hired Lasting Impressions Limos to offer the service on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each week. The limo will cost users the same as the bus ($2 one way), will follow the same route, and will leave at the same times. In addition, after the “bus” route, the limo will wrap back and do the route a second time to pick up the RMA students.
“We’ve mirrored exactly the times of the BC Transit bus,” Steven said, “because we’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get in the habit of taking it.”
One difference, however, will be a lunchtime run on Wednesdays and Thursdays instead of an evening run. Another difference is that the limo will not head down to the valley. “It would be great,” Steven said, “but we don’t have the money. We’ve decided to take baby steps.”
TR is putting together a pamphlet with the schedule and locations for both the BC Transit and the limo shuttle services, and TR is also making signs for each of the three ski bus stops: the Prestige, Casa Alpina, and Red Mountain. The BC Transit ski bus leaves the Prestige at 8:23, Casa Alpina at 8:26, and arrives at Red Mountain at 8:31. It returns from Red at 3:45, arriving at Casa Alpina at 3:50 and the Prestige at 3:53.
Steven explained that RMA need to hire a bus in any case, and it doesn’t cost twice as much to do the route twice. “We’ve managed to keep [RMA] under budget,” she said, keeping their bill to about $4000 for the season, “and it’s going to cost [TR] about $8000.”
“It’s a pimped out, Las Vegas style, leather interior limo with a big screen TV and a big thumping stereo,” she laughed. “The kids are going to love it. Everyone’s going to love it.”
“We’re hoping that instead of hitch-hiking, more people will take the bus,” Steven said. “Hopefully we’re successful, but we could be too successful. It’s a 24-seat bus and it’s doing one route. The best problem would be too many people.”
The “guaranteed” 4 days per week Spokane shuttle to Red Mountain and Whitewater
The Spokane airport shuttle has been offered in the past by Queen City Shuttles, but only when a minimum of four passengers were on board, Steven said, announcing that TR, Red Mountain, Whitewater, and the Nelson Kootenay Lake DMO (Destination Marketing Organization, as TR is for Rossland) have partnered to guarantee 4 days of service each week regardless of how many passengers need the lift.
“What we’ve done, basically, is buy the empty seats,” Steven said. “Even if it’s one person booked on the bus, it will still go.”
The Spokane shuttle will run Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday when both ski hills are open, making the loop from Nelson to Rossland to Spokane and back the same way.
At $135 per passenger, Steven says this is unlikely to be the transportation chosen by groups of four people, but the shuttle would make sense for one or two people on a ski trip.
“It’s not a perfect solution yet,” Steven allowed, “but we’re trying to build capacity on these lines so these businesses can make enough money that they’re working on their own.”
About Tourism Rossland funding
TR’s funding comes from a variety of sources. From April 1 2011 to Mar. 31 2012, for example, TR had a total income of more than $162,000.
Almost $50,000 came from the Additional Hotel Room Tax, more than $30,000 in grants, $30,000 from the City of Rossland, $27,000 from the Red Mountain Resort Association, almost $20,000 from the Pay to Play program, $1700 from voluntary contributions by small accommodators, and $590 in membership fees.
[Correction: This article has been amended to reflect that fact that, although we all dearly wish it were true, the new shuttle is not actually a Hummer but rather, as Deanne Steven claried in a recent email, “just a 24 seater shuttle bus- but yes it is totally pimped out!”]