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Telluride’s beloved gondola transportation system- who’s going to pay for it………?

Telluride’s beloved mode of transportation, the gondola, which whisk’s passengers to and from the town of Telluride and the Mountain Village in 12 minutes for free, has been running for over 20 years now. It’s an incredible mode of transportation and is one of the many characteristics of Telluride that make Telluride so much more unique than other resorts.

Since it’s inception, the gondola has been operated and funded by the town of Mountain Village and its HOA, TMVOA. At a cost of roughly $3.5mm, that’s real money. A big reality with the gondola is that Mountain Village’s responsibility to fund the transportation system ends in 2027. And though that seems far away, it’s not.

How will future funding look? Likely some federal grants. Likely contributions from all three regional governing entities: San Miguel County, Town of Telluride and the Mountain Village. Only time will tell how this plays-out. Here’s an article from today’s Daily Planet on the subject:

The future of the gondola
Subcommittee eyeing long-term funding, solutions

The current gondola operating agreement expires in 2027, and area officials are continuing talks regarding the future of the system. (Planet file photo)
While 2027 may sound like the distant future, members of the gondola subcommittee know that isn’t the case.
Regional officials explained that during a virtual meeting Tuesday night, which was the first of what will be many leadership meetings regarding the future of the gondola system after the current operating agreement expires in 2027.
“I think there’s a perception that it’s 2027 and that’s a long way off, but having been in the process this long it almost feels like that’s not enough time. There’s a sense of urgency in some of the (federal) spending packages that have come out that we want to start to formulate some more strategies on this,” Mountain Village Council Member Patrick Berry said of his four-plus years of involvement.
Currently, Mountain Village maintains and operates the gondola system, as well as provides offseason bus service when the gondola is closed during the offseasons. Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association (TMVOA) funds a majority of gondola and maintenance operations, which are approximately $3.5 million annually, through a 3 percent Mountain Village real estate transfer assessment. One percent of Telski ticket sales also currently go toward gondola funding. But after 2027 none of that will be required. Officials have been discussing how the gondola will operate and what that could look like post-2027 for years, including during their respective governmental meetings, but the subcommittee meetings will hone in on the finer details moving forward, particularly funding and what upgrades may be necessary to meet future demand.
San Miguel County Commissioner Lance Waring echoed Berry’s sentiments in reiterating the overall cost will most likely require applying for grants.
“This is not going to be something that we can probably afford as a region. We’re going to have to rely on grant money from, hopefully, the federal government, and in order to do that we’re going to have to come up with a plan to get this in the hopper and that’s going to take time. So when Patrick said there’s a bit of urgency to this, he’s right, because it’s far away but also close,” he said.
Miles Graham, of Denver consulting firm GBSM, moderated Wednesday’s meeting, which mainly established and explained the consensus of subcommittee members regarding the gondola’s future, as well as presented a three-phased, long-term roadmap. In 2022, phases two and three will consist of assessing needs, evaluating options, identifying a desired system, and plan for long-term funding and operation, according to the roadmap.
Heinz Nusser of Outdoor Engineers also presented their potential future options, including smaller upgrades, major upgrades and a new gondola system, according to thereale state, dan Henschel,Real