Reducing Trips to the Mountain: Revelstoke’s Resort Shuttle Bus
Revelstoke’s collaborative approach to meeting the demand for transportation between the resort and the community helps reduce traffic in the community and increase access to the mountain.
The City of Revelstoke partnered with local tourism-based businesses to provide a shuttle bus service between the city and resort. Gas Tax and Resort Municipality Initiative funds were used to leverage private sector resources to reduce traffic in the community of Revelstoke and increase access to the mountain.
Since the 2008/2009 ski season, the City of Revelstoke, the Revelstoke Accommodation Association (RAA), and the Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) have been partnering to provide shuttle bus service between the city and resort. The service is available to the entire community and is used by residents and visitors alike; it has helped further Revelstoke’s climate action goals by reducing community CO2 emissions through decreased vehicle traffic.
The service opened in 2007 and was initiated to meet the demand for transportation between the resort and the community. The great majority of hotel accommodation is located within the community, which means visitors to Revelstoke must travel from the community to access the resort. City staff decided that it would be beneficial to initiate a bus service to improve the transportation of visitors and residents between the resort and community. Following several successful years of operation, the City decided to expand the shuttle service. A third slightly larger shuttle bus was purchased in 2012, as operating only two shuttles could no longer keep up with rider demand. Ridership, which sat at 12,000 trips in the first year of service, rose to 46,000 trips by the 2013/2014 ski season.
Expansion of the shuttle bus service furthered several of the goals of Revelstoke’s Regional Development Strategy, including increasing the number of overnight stays in the community by expanding the number of skiers and snowboarders who can use the shuttle service. The revenues from hotel room visitation are also on the rise as the amount of time travellers spend in the community gets extended.
The City is currently considering expanding shuttle service into the summer season.
Energy Savings/GHG reductions
The Revelstoke resort shuttle bus is estimated to have reduced the number of vehicle trips within the community by 170,000 since 2008 by providing an alternative form of transportation between the city and the resort. Such a reduction in vehicle usage equates to approximately 70 tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year.
“The City decided to expand the shuttle service as operating only two shuttles could no longer keep up with rider demand. Ridership, which sat at 12,000 trips in the first year of service, rose to 46,000 trips by the 2013/2014 ski season.”
The City of Revelstoke purchased two 35-seat shuttle buses in 2008 with Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funds at a cost of $170,000. In 2012, a third bus, seating 45, was acquired, also using RMI money, at a cost of $200,000.
Current annual operating expenses are $135,000. The City of Revelstoke contributes $25,000 through its Gas Tax Fund entitlement and the remaining $110,000 is covered by shuttle fare box revenue and contributions by the RAA and RMR.
The winter shuttle service benefits the tourism industry by increasing access to and from the Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Additionally, by offering an alternative transit option to the resort, the shuttle reduces vehicle traffic within the city, particularly traffic generated by travelling tourists. Reduced traffic volume during the busy winter ski season also improves traffic safety in the community. This was particularly important for Revelstoke, as the main route from downtown to the resort passed by two elementary schools.
Good partnerships are key
The City of Revelstoke, RAA, and RMR co-manage the shuttle bus service. The City owns the shuttle buses and is responsible for major maintenance, while the operation is contracted to a local private company. Co-operation and co-ordination among the partners, along with a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities was crucial to ensure the success of the shuttle bus initiative.
Value of external funding sources
All operation and capital funding for the shuttle comes from sources external to the City of Revelstoke. Capital funds for the purchase of shuttle buses were provided through the Province’s Resort Municipality Initiative. Over 80% of operating expenses are covered by fare box revenue, the RAA, and the RMR, with the remaining 20% provided by the City, using part of its share of the federal Gas Tax Fund. Thus, Revelstoke is able to offer the service without having to raise additional revenues or reduce other spending.
Importance of capital planning
Capital planning is crucial for a service that depends on expensive and complex physical assets. Local governments responsible for a shuttle bus service will need to budget for ongoing vehicle maintenance costs and be considerate of the possibility that mechanical issues can take buses out of service for extended periods of time or render them inoperable altogether. Revelstoke’s purchase of a third bus in 2012 ensures at least two shuttles can be in operation at all times, which was not possible with only two shuttles in the fleet. A vehicle replacement plan is also necessary to ensure old vehicle can be retired and new ones purchased without negatively impact service levels over the long-term.
Local government contact
Environmental Sustainability Coordinator
T: (250) 837-3497