Free shuttle success a factor in Red's best year ever

Deanne Steven
By Deanne Steven
April 29th, 2014

Last ski season was Rossland’s best ever in terms of accommodation revenue, food and beverage, skier visits and other services.   We also started to see more group tours (for whom a shuttle is a necessity) than ever before- this is a major area of growth for the local economy.  Additionally, the support from the community was overwhelming with accolades from all sectors of Rossland from businesses, to seniors, to students and seasonal homeowners. 

The free ride bus was the single most successful project we have ever put together.  The support from the community was overwhelming- and the outcomes were even better than expected!

The free ride bus was an amazing success and transported 19,391 passengers, of which 14,222 were residents or seasonal residents and 5,169 were visitors.  We transported an average of 170 passengers per day!

Having a shuttle service is one key strategic action in the Visions to Action, City of Rossland  Strategic Sustainability Plan- ID #60 “Establish and maintain a shuttle bus between downtown Rossland, Red Mountain Resort and the Redstone Alpine Golf Resort”.  Tourism Rossland is proud of our ability, by collaborating with many different stakeholders to put this together. 

We are now planning the service for the next two years and have compiled a significant amount of data as well as stakeholder input to create a plan moving forward. 

The Free Ride bus was paid for by contributions of $42,000 from local businesses and organizations which were matched by $42,000 from the Resort Municipality Initiative. 

Economic Impact

Based on the Municipal and Regional Tax (Accommodation or Hotel Tax) Rossland had its best year ever (March stats will be available in May).  January was the community’s best month ever as tracked since 2006. 

We tracked every passenger as they got on the bus throughout the winter. The peak time of the day was from 2:30 to 3:30 and we encountered many overfull buses at this time.  This will be taken into consideration with the creation of future schedules, by the shifting of the one hour break in the middle of the day. 

We also wanted to know which days were the most important to our riders for future scheduling.  The quietest day of the week is Sunday, however as there was only a small variance between the most popular day of Monday with 3019 passengers and Sunday with 2,393 per day.  Therefore no adjustments to the schedule are suggested with regards to days of the week.  Additionally it was strongly felt that continuing to keep the bus on a set schedule every day was key to the success and continued use of the shuttle. 

During the course of the winter we hired a contractor to conduct 100 intercept surveys on the shuttle to gather data with regards to our users. We wanted to understand how important this shuttle was in people’s decision to choose Rossland as their winter destination. 

Based on this data, clearly the availability of this service is critical to continuing to attract visitors during the winter, with 59% of respondants saying the service was a critical part of their decision making process.

We also wanted to gather input on how much our riders liked the service.  So we asked our riders how they would rank our new shuttle bus service:

–          Excellent

–          OK

–          Don’t Like it

The results showed that they were overwhelmingly happy with the shuttle, with 92% of respondants describing it as excellent. 

Prior to starting this service, there was a lot of discussion about having this service as a free shuttle as opposed to charging 2$ (which would bring it inline with other transportation options. )

So we asked users if they would use it if it cost $2 per trip. 59% said ‘no’. This is an indication of the importance of keeping this shuttle free.  It also gives us an indication of the price elasticity of demand for shuttle service. 

Based on this data we would suggest that the shuttle be kept free in future years.

Carbon Reduction

We wanted to calculate the environmental benefit of the bus as well as the social and economic benefits.  Using this calculator http://offsets.greeningsacredspaces.org/ and making the assumption that each person drove a midsize car.  We calculated the following Carbon Reduction:

o   Bus- 117 days X 14 routes per day X 10 kms per route = 16,380kms  which equals 1.64 of tons of carbon

o   Cars- 117 days X 85 (170 people per day/2 people per car)  X10 kms = 99,450 kms  which equals 30.03 tons

o   For a total reduction for the whole season of 28.39 tons

This reduction is significant for a community of our size and adds to our goal of becoming a sustainable community. 

Crime Rates- Impaired Driving

We also believe that the availability of a shuttle service in Rossland has an effect on Impaired Driving in Rossland.  In order to track this we checked with the RCMP who provided the following statistics. 

Impaired Driving Charges in Rossland:

–          2011  8         (no shuttle service)

–          2012  3         (first shuttle bus started)

–          2013  1        (shuttle bus)

–          2014 (not released yet)

It would appear that Rossland Impaired Driving Charges are significantly lower than in previous years and the shuttle bus may have had an effect on this rate.

Categories: General

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