The Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola Long-Term Plan

Originally built to improve air quality in the region by keeping cars off the road, the Gondola has been shuttling approximately 3 million visitors, residents, skiers, hikers, festival-goers and commuters per year over 10,500-foot Coonskin Ridge since 1996. It is the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the United States.

Gondola Background and Current Planning Phase

  • Built in 1996 and connects the Town of Telluride and Mountain Village
  • Owned and operated by the Town of Mountain Village
  • Originally constructed to improve air quality and reduce traffic impacts
  • Operating agreement expires at the end of 2027
  • Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA), Telluride Ski and Golf (Telski), the Town of Telluride, the Town of Mountain Village and San Miguel County began evaluating a long-term gondola plan in 2015.
  • In June 2022, the Gondola Long-Term Planning Leadership Committee – comprised of representatives from TMVOA, Telski, Telluride, Mountain Village, San Miguel County and San Miguel Authority for Regional Transit (SMART) – unanimously decided to pursue a new gondola system as the Locally Preferred Alternative.

Long-Term Planning Roadmap

View the detailed planning roadmap

Documents & Resources

Leadership Committee Meetings

May 2024: Gondola Long Term Planning

April 2024: Gondola Long Term Planning

March 2024: Gondola Long Term Planning

January 2024: Gondola Leadership Committee Meeting

October 2023: Potential Regional Funding Scenarios and Election Services Approach

September 2023: Collaborative Decision-Making Structure and the Path Forward

July 2023: Developing a Regional Gondola Strategy

January 2023: Post-2027 Operations and Preliminary Regional Funding Concepts

September 2022: Future Phase Timeline and Collaborative CapEx/OpEx Funding Strategy

July 2022: Station Planning and Funding Strategy

June 2022: Community Survey Results and Locally Preferred Alternative Decision

March 2022: Analysis of Potential Alternatives and Costs/Benefits

November 2021: Chartering, Planning Objectives and Guiding Principles

Gondola Subcommittee Documents & Presentations

Research & Historical Documents

Community Engagement

Provide Feedback

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Gondola Facts & Figures

Download the Fact Sheet

• 3 million trips per year
20,000+ riders per day during peak seasons – one of Colorado’s busiest transit lines
1st and only FREE transit system of its kind in the US
• 113,000+ hours in operation since 1996 – no other system in the US has moved as many riders or ran as many hours

The Economic Lift

• 32% increase in ridership (combined winter and summer) between 2011 and 2017
• Nearly 4 million projected riders in 2037 but current system is at capacity
• 70% of riders are non-resident visitors – significantly reduces the number of cars and the vehicle miles traveled within both towns
• 25-35% of trips are work or school related for local residents
• Local economy is driven almost exclusively by tourism – the free gondola itself is a critical attraction for both overnight and day visitors
• Allows Telluride and Mountain Village to share markets and leverage the strengths of its neighbor – avoiding the mountain/core town separation that plagues many other resorts

Existing System Funding and Costs

• Annual costs: $3.5M for operations and maintenance; $50k - $2M in capital and major repairs – projected to increase by at least 10% in the next 2 years
• Town of Mountain Village is contractually obligated to provide the majority of the gondola’s funding through a 3% Mountain Village real estate transfer assessment through 2027
• Additional funding comes from operating and capital grants (+$10M total), 1% of lift sales by Telski ($200k per year), Town of Telluride extended hours contributions and event operations funding

Increased Necessity for Updated Gondola System

• System is at the maximum number of cabins (57)
• Wait times are increasing during peak periods and projected to grow
• System is more than 25 years old – many parts are no longer manufactured and need to be special-ordered which leads to increased system downtime
• Parking constraints and projected increases in traffic
• No agreed-upon operating and funding plan for after 2027