Shuttles will be free this season
By MIKE LYNCH
Hiker shuttles in the High Peaks kick off Saturday in anticipation of peak summer tourist season.
The town of Keene bus will be running from Marcy Field to the Garden parking lot and trailhead from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Garden leads to trails that go into the Johns Brook Valley and the surrounding High Peaks.
“I anticipate tomorrow if the weather’s good it is going to be really busy,” Keene Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson said. “It’s July. Everybody is ready for some hiking and swimming and camping and everything.”
One bonus for riders this season is the shuttle is free. It’s normally $10 to ride, but the state provided funding to eliminate the fee.
A week after the Keene shuttle starts, it will be joined by Essex County’s shuttle that runs on state Route 73 from Marcy Field to Chapel Pond, dropping people off at trailheads there and at the Roaring Brook Trailhead for Giant Mountain and Rooster Comb in Keene Valley.
The free county shuttle will operate on weekends and holidays through Monday, Oct. 10. New this year, additional runs on select weekends in August and October will be piloted from Frontier Town Gateway in North Hudson.
So far the hiking season has been busy, Wilson said, without illegal parking and safety issues like some past years.
“The Garden has been filling up by 5:30 – 6 in the morning on Saturdays. We haven’t had a lot of overflow, which is good. People have gotten the message about planning ahead and having alternate routes, so we haven’t had illegal parking problems, and when the shuttles start up, that really takes away that problem.”
People who drive to The Garden parking lot in their own vehicles have to pay $10 a day to park under a self-service system.
Trail stewards will once again be at Marcy Field this season to greet hikers and answer questions.
Both shuttles will run on weekends and holidays only.
I still don’t get the point of the Essex County Shuttle. It doesn’t stop at either AMR or the Loj. It stops at the Ridge trailhead but parking hasn’t been an issue there on all but the busiest days. Why does it bother stopping at Roostercomb when the other end of the GRT is at the Loj and it doesn’t stop there?
Is it just me, or is it a bad idea to get people hooked on FREE shuttles, only to start charging somewhere in the future?? Isn’t that essentially the big fight now – paying for our recreation infrastructure when we didn’t in the past?
We all know those shuttles are far from free to operate. Vehicle cost/maintenence, fuel, parking infrastructure, drivers, etc. all cost money. I don’t feel the cost should be borne by general taxpayers from NYS coffers, but at least a significant portion by users. Any EXCESS profits can be put toward stewardship or trail funds. Even an inexpensive annual shuttle pass would be better than free – which is just a bad idea if we want to protect the Park. NYS is providing the playground, but people need to realize that infrastructure is not free. The more infrastructure we demand, the more users should be willing to contribute for that convenience.
Probably since people didn’t pay in the past either. They simply parked where they wanted to hike and then went hiking.
Since it was the state that didn’t want people parking where the trails are (due to causing issues with parking along the road), they are offering this shuttle at no charge to users, since there was never a charge before.
No one specifically demanded that these shuttles exist, it was the state not wanting people to park that caused the need for them.
Is the shuttle still in operation this coming weekend? (Saturday, oct. 29)
Melissa Hart says
Shuttle season is done for this year.