Chapter two:
Winter Park & Beyond
Visit Winter Park Lodging

Winter Park & Beyond:

Once you arrive here you’ll be magically transported by the “The Lift” not that Lyft Our Lift, to Winter Park & Beyond! Long before the sharing economy exploded The Lift was our private transportation system operated by Winter Park Ski Resort. If you were here prior to 2016, you’ll remember the old school buses that were painted gray, what the locals affectionately called the “prison Buses”. Not because they transported anyone to the lock up, at least not that I know of.

Where is Beyond?

I believe that “beyond” is a nod to Fraser, Colorado’s Leaving Planet Earth signs. Back in the 70’s someone manufactured a sign and put it up under the Fraser Colorado highway sign. The sign was left up for years until someone complained about it. At which point the sign was taken down. A few years ago an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) festival was held in Fraser and the local government put the sign back up for the event. Seems appropriate that if you are having music festival in the middle of winter in what is arguably the icebox of the nation that you would be leaving planet Earth!

We wanted to find out more about the Winter Park & Beyond Transit system and manager Michael Koch was kind enough to take the time and answer some questions for us! Below you’ll find his interview:

An interview with Winter Park Transit Manager Michael Koch

Tell us about yourself and how you ended up in Winter Park?

I worked as a transit consultant for 4 years before applying for my position with the Town of Winter Park.  When the job opened up with the Town of Winter Park for a Transit Manager I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!  The Town of Winter Park was a client of ours at the time, so I had a good understanding of how the system had been run in the past and ways which I could help the system run more effectively to serve the community.  

I am a big skier, so the Upper Fraser Valley is a dream location to call home.  I’ve been skiing since I was 5 (I grew up 30 mins from Lake Tahoe), I raced on my high school ski team, and I was a ski instructor at Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe in college.  I’m excited to help manage and develop this new system in such a beautiful part of my favorite state.

How is the transportation system funded?

The system is funded through a Transit & Trails Tax passed by the residents of Winter Park and Fraser.  We also receive some funding from CDOT and homeowners associations to help supplement our operational costs.  Winter Park Resort also contributes to the system for capital improvements.

What’s the ridership?

During our first year of operating, we have provided over 500,000 rides.  470,000 of those were during the winter months, with the remaining 30,000 rides occurring in the Spring/Fall and Summer season. 

How many buses are needed to run on a typical weekend day?  

14-18 busses are needed to operate fixed routes during the weekend between 7AM – 6PM.  After 6PM, the system is serviced with 5 buses as part of a fixed-route and call-and-ride system.

Can you please describe the different types of buses The Lift incorporates and their uses?

We have 4 different styles of bus:

1.  40-foot Orion (Standard Public Transit Style Bus) – ADA-accessible and operates on our regularly scheduled routes.

2.  30-foot Gillig (Standard Public Transit-Style Bus) – ADA-accessible and operates on our regularly scheduled routes.

3.  40-foot Eldorado (Standard Public Transit-Style Bus) – ADA-accessible and operates on our regularly scheduled routes.

4.  25-foot Body-on-Chassis Shuttle – these are used specifically for our ADA Paratransit service, so also ADA-accessible.

5.  FUTURE:  35-foot Gillig (Standard Public Transit-Style Bus) – ADA-accessible and operates on our regularly scheduled routes. Scheduled to arrive mid-2018

Why does a bus take 18+ months to build? 

There are so few bus manufacturers and such a high demand for new transit buses.  We are expecting to receive our first 2 brand-new Gillig buses sometime in mid-2018.

Tell me about Ride Hop and how to navigate using this mobile app?

RideHop is really useful in planning your trip to the Resort and around the Fraser and Winter Park area.  You can download the app at the Google Play or Apple Store.  Once the app is downloaded, you input the ride code:  “lift”.  You can go out to your nearest bus stop and the routes that service that stops are listed on the physical sign itself.  You can also visit and view the map of the entire system and find your location on the map from there via the app, you can see the real-time location of buses in the system.

Talk about the marketing efforts behind the new designs? 

The new marketing design was a collaborative effort supported by the Transit Advisory Committee and the Winter Park Town Council.  We contracted with Studio Six Designs to gather stakeholder feedback through a Community Transit Design Committee, which led to the designs we now see throughout the system (buses, signage, website, etc.).  We’re really appreciative of the efforts of the stakeholder group, and we hope that they stay involved in the future.

The four seasons and angles are certainly represented in the design of the bus wraps, quite the departure from the gray prison looking buses. Love them!

Is the system capable of serving more than the Fraser Valley and at what cost? 

The system is scalable; however, service to new areas will require investment from those being served to cover the cost (which at this point cannot be defined, as it would require new rolling stock, drivers, administration, and other costs).  We are focused on fixing the existing system and making it run safely and efficiently in Fraser and Winter Park.

If I wanted to jump on the bus from my rental condo in upper ptarmigan go skiing for the day, stop for a cocktail at the Deno’s after skiing, get groceries for dinner back at my condo and then go out for a movie at the Foundry and get back to my condo after hours and use only the transportation system what would my steps need to be? Would I have to call if its 1:00 in the morning when I decide to come home?

You can absolutely accomplish this schedule with our transit system.  All of the information you need to schedule your trip can be found on our website –  All of the locations you note are served by public transit, which may be in the form of either fixed-route service or call-and-ride service.  For late night service, call 970.726.4163 to schedule call-and-ride transit in both Fraser and Winter Park. – below are the steps for your itinerary (assuming this is a weekend):

1. Download the app the night before Search for The Lift Rider

2. Wake up and look at The Lift Rider on your phone to view the Purple Line/Fraser Cirque Express for your express bus to the Resort.  Before the bus gets to the top of Wapiti Drive, head to the Fox Run stop.

3. Enjoy your ride on the Purple Line/Fraser Cirque Express route to the Resort

4. After your day of skiing, you can board the Black, Red or Blue line to get to Deno’s – your stop will be “Main at Vasquez”

5. After you leave Deno’s you can walk back to the “Main at Vasquez” bus stop and board the Black Line.  For less waiting time in the cold, watch for the Black Line on your phone via RideHop.  When it looks like it is a few minutes away, head to your stop.   This will line will drop you off right near the entrance to Safeway.

6. While you are shopping at Safeway, you can view the real-time location of the Purple Line/Fraser Cirque, which will be your connection back to your condo in upper Ptarmigan.  

7. To get to the Foundry for your movie, call the Night Lift at 970.726.4163 and request a pick-up at your nearest bus stop (in your case, the Fox Run stop).  

8. Depending on ridership that evening, you may get a direct ride to the nearest stop to the Foundry (Rec Center or Kings Crossing Ctr, your choice), OR the Purple Line/Fraser Cirque may transfer you to the Black Line which can get you to those same stops.

9. After your movie, you can call for your ride home!

Finally, what’s new for this season?

We have extended hours (the bus now runs until 2 AM), the new rider app, a new fleet of safe, comfortable buses that are ADA accessible, improved signage and mapping with more information on them, and much, much more.

Fun Facts:
  1. Census information
    Population: 993 sources: US Census estimate
    Median Household Income: $74,167 American Community Survey 2010-2014
    Median housing value: $376,500 American Community Survey
  2. Who owns Winter Park?
    Winter Park was opened in the 1939/40 season by the City of Denver Colorado. The City of Denver entered a partnership with Intrawest, ULC, a Canadian Corporation in 2002 which operated the Winter Park Ski Resort until this year, Winter Park Resort was purchased by the family that owns Aspen Skiing Co. With Denver’s KSL Capital Partner and the new Ownership, the name is Alterra Mountain Co.
  3. What is the Elevation of Winter Park?
    The town of Winter Park is located at an elevation of 9,100 feet.
    The Winter Park Ski Resort climbs to 10,700 feet and beyond there…
    The top of Panoramic is at an elevation of 12,060 feet

Read Chapter One: Planes, Trains and Automobiles here!