It was a little perk that helped make Revelstoke that much more of a ski bum utopia. For the past three years, the free resort shuttle picked up riders in town and dropped them off at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort gondola base. At the end of the day, another free ride home. Starting next snow season, it looks like the free ride is over.
The City of Revelstoke is issuing a request for proposals seeking private operators to run the buses, which will likely include a user-pay model to cover costs.
City council reviewed a staff report on the changes at their June 14 meeting, backing it unanimously.
The two, 35-passenger coaches are owned by the city and operated by RMR. The city has contributed $25,000 annually for operating costs over the past two years.
They were originally purchased using provincial ‘hotel tax’ funding. The concept was that they’d have many benefits for the community. The buses would reduce congestion and wear on roads, in addition to meeting greenhouse gas objectives. The service also provided transportation for workers at the resort. The shuttle also provided a key tourism benefit for Revelstoke by boosting the tour bus trade to town; skiers could take a bus here for the weekend and still have a way to get to the hill.
In ridership terms, the shuttle has been a success, transporting about 30,000 people last season. In contrast, the BC Transit buses in Revelstoke move about 20,000 people all year.
A request by RMR this spring prompted the change. The resort asked the city to look at different options for the shuttle buses.
The result was a request for proposals (RFP) for third-party operators. The city will continued to contribute $25,000 this year, and the RFP leaves open the possibility of continued funding from the city beyond that. The Revelstoke Accommodation Association and Revelstoke Mountain Resort will each contribute $20,000 towards the service this season.
It is unknown how much it will cost you to ride the shuttle. That will be determined by the proposals the city receives from prospective operators. RMR has proposed selling season shuttle passes alongside ski passes.
The city’s RFP also permits potential operators to seek other revenue streams, such as advertising on the bus, applying for provincial or federal grants, fundraisers, or operating a dinner service or evening service.
Some people will continue to get a free ride. The proposal explicitly exempts RMR staff and Revelstoke Accommodations Association hotel guests from paying whatever fees and charges will come with the new service.
For the rest of us, add bus fare to the list of things to pack for a day on the slopes.