As of Monday, the Free Ride Ski Bus’s hours will be reduced.
The final bus of the night will leave downtown at 6:30 p.m. and the final bus from Red Mountain Resort will leave at 7 p.m. The 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. buses have been canceled “due to financial limitations.”
“After reviewing usage data, the Board of Tourism Rossland concluded that the cancellation of late-evening service will have the least impact on our visitors, residents and local businesses,” Andras Lukacs, new executive director of Tourism Rossland, explained in a release.
Tourism Rossland announced the change Sunday night, after sending out a previous press release on March 12, letting stakeholders know that the organization was $7,131 short of the funding needed to run the bus for the duration of the ski season and that based on the revenues at that time, the bus would cease operating for the season on March 23.
That release also asked that anyone interested in making contributions toward the bus contact Tourism Rossland before March 16.
The Free Ride Ski Bus is funded through the Resort Municipality Initiative, but also relies on contributions from “various tourism stakeholders.” Last season it transported over 20,000 passengers.
Lukacs said Tourism Rossland is exploring funding models for next year, including looking for ways that Rossland residents can contribute.
“Definitely we’re looking into funding models for next year,” he said. “We started brainstorming, but we don’t know what that’s going to look like, but we would like to have some kind of option for locals to contribute to the bus too.”
The executive director explained that there used to be a donation box on the bus, but it was taken out after last year because it didn’t generate enough revenue — so Tourism Rossland is looking for a new way residents can chip and keep the bus running.
“One consideration is to have some kind of season pass for residents that’s very reasonably priced,” he told the News. “So you can buy it at the beginning of the season and then that we’ll be able to recuperate some of our costs.”