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Old 01-13-2020, 08:37 AM   #1
Dave Bourque
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High Peaks Shuttle Buses

Important news...

https://www.adirondackexplorer.org/s...ty-trail-buses
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:45 AM   #2
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From Adirondack Explorer;

Hiker shuttle buses will serve popular High Peaks trailheads this summer under an agreement between the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and Essex County.
As planned, the state will pay $1.2 million for four 24-passenger buses and their operation, including at least eight drivers. The buses will be folded into the county’s existing transit system, said Shaun Gillilland, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. The supervisors unanimously approved the plan on Monday.
Gillilland said the shuttles would operate 16 hours a day and pass every Route 73 trailhead once every half hour. The county wanted to provide frequent service, he said, and late enough that “we won’t be leaving hikers in the woods.”
“If it says ‘Essex County’ on the side of those buses,” he said, “it’s going to be robust.”
Under the current plan, ridership would be free. “The DEC wants to make this work, so based on how it is now, this will be a non-paying system,” he said.
The routes will begin at Marcy Field, where the Town of Keene already operates a shuttle to The Garden trailhead, one of the three busiest entry points into the High Peaks. Keene will continue to run its town shuttle independent of the new county routes, Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson said.
County buses will circulate southeast to the vicinity of the intersection of Routes 73 and 9 — popularly if uncharitably known as Malfunction Junction. The other route will go west to the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic sports complex. Hikers will have access to roadside trailheads heading to the High Peaks of Cascade, Porter, Giant and Dix, as well as St. Huberts, where a wealth of trails from the Ausable Club lead into the High Peaks interior. It will also pass lesser mountains with popular trails, such as Pitchoff, Hopkins and Rooster Comb.
Wilson said the plan is for the shuttles to run most days from the end of school in June through Labor Day, and then on weekends and holidays in the fall. The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Adirondack Mountain Club will publicize the network, he said.
“We’re glad to have the state jumping in with some substantial support,” he said, adding that the shuttles will dovetail nicely with the town’s front-country steward program, which was also the recipient of a state grant late last year.
Front-country stewards are stationed in parking lots and offer route suggestions, as well as ensuring hikers are adequately prepared for the trip they have in mind. “They’re a captive audience while they’re waiting for the shuttle,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he does not expect shuttles will necessarily alleviate crowded conditions on the trails, but he believes it will make Keene Valley significantly “safer and more user-friendly” by reducing the number of hikers walking a mile or two along the highway to get to their cars.
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Old 01-13-2020, 09:29 AM   #3
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Just a repeat of Makwas earlier post ain't it?
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Old 01-13-2020, 10:50 AM   #4
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The next logical step will be tram service for non-hikers.
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Old 01-13-2020, 12:55 PM   #5
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"Under the current plan, ridership would be free. “The DEC wants to make this work, so based on how it is now, this will be a non-paying system,” he said."

Oh, it is a paying system, all right, just not the users of the system that are paying. Another hand in my pocket to pay for someone else's ride. ;(
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lucky13 View Post
"Under the current plan, ridership would be free. “The DEC wants to make this work, so based on how it is now, this will be a non-paying system,” he said."

Oh, it is a paying system, all right, just not the users of the system that are paying. Another hand in my pocket to pay for someone else's ride. ;(
Wanna make a bet that in a couple of years it will be rider/pay? So as a taxpayer it could be a double whammy.
NY rarely has "free lunch".
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:08 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lucky13 View Post
"Under the current plan, ridership would be free. “The DEC wants to make this work, so based on how it is now, this will be a non-paying system,” he said."

Oh, it is a paying system, all right, just not the users of the system that are paying. Another hand in my pocket to pay for someone else's ride. ;(
I suppose you feel the same way about the shuttle bus system in Glacier National Park.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:34 PM   #8
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What Glacier?
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Old 01-13-2020, 07:09 PM   #9
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I suppose you feel the same way about the shuttle bus system in Glacier National Park.
I feel that way anytime users of a resource, especially a recreational one, are allowed to pass the costs on to non users. I can't remember all the national parks I get to use in NYS, and try going to Niagara Falls and finding free parking! Anyone who can afford to get to Glacier National Park can afford to pay the cost of the system that allows them to enjoy it in a reasonable fashion. Ditto the High Peaks.
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:18 PM   #10
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FWIW, while I've no doubt that the shuttle buses in parks like Glacier and Zion are heavily subsidized, those parks do also have access fees that I'm sure cover at least part of the costs.

I do find myself wondering just how sustainable a completely free shuttle bus service will be in the long run, but I'm not opposed to some level of subsidization generally.

Does anyone here really believe that the true operating costs of the DEC campgrounds are fully covered by the $15-20 per night fee?
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:59 AM   #11
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There are far too many subsidies in the Adirondacks. All roads, trails, rails, lean-tos, etc. should be pay-as-you go. I barely use 1% of these resources; why should the state pass the cost on to me for the other 99%? Plus, the fees generated could pay for people to collect the fees.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:32 PM   #12
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I don't believe they could charge enough to cover the cost of maintaining trails/bridges, etc, let alone wages etc, except for the very, very wealthy.
I don't use all the roads in the state either but I help pay for them...so I'll take what they give me and if its a free ride to and from a trailhead once or ten times a year, so be it.
How many folks never even visit a park, hike, fish, hunt, camp? The answer, hundreds of thousands, but they're paying for maintenance of the forest/lakes/streams/campgrounds so we can use them.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:40 PM   #13
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Does anyone here really believe that the true operating costs of the DEC campgrounds are fully covered by the $15-20 per night fee?
Prices are up 18-22.00 for most sites with some higher, and additional fees if there are additional amenities. It costs you $2 to walk into one to use a restroom!
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_e...cilityinfo.pdf
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:37 PM   #14
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And, those people who may use the shuttles often spend money in town at local businesses, so those who don't use amenities like this may still benefit from them. I have no kids in my local school system, but I pay into it so that the community can educate its kids and stay a nice place to live. Subsidizing shuttles does not only benefit the lucky (relatively) few who actually use them. A worthwhile attempt- I hope it succeeds.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:36 AM   #15
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I like the idea of "trail-head stewards" but think it is relatively easy to pass them by without listening to their shtick.

Would be great if the shuttle buses took advantage of the captive audience they will have. Something even as simple as the posters you stare at while riding similar to what you see on other public transit. Aside from hiker safety they should include some glorious photos of view from non-high peak summits or trails.

Yes, they should stop at spots along the way encouraging local business.

I rode the shuttle for the garden this fall for first time and it was a fantastic experience. I love the idea of removing the concern about finding parking from the equation. I also would welcome a reduction in parking and foot traffic along rt73.

And I really like this idea better than carving out more parking spaces from the wilderness.
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Old 01-16-2020, 12:36 PM   #16
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In my experience doing steward-related work: if it's still relatively early in the day and there's plenty of time for someone to rectify the shortcomings in their preparedness (go get a map, headlamp, food, water, etc.) and then still do a hike, it's fairly easy to get unprepared hikers turned around at or near the trailhead. To that end, I think stops in the towns (Keene/Keene Valley) make sense even if only for this reason alone- hikers can stop at Stewart's, Valley Grocery, and the Mountaineer to obtain missing essentials.

Later in the day is more of a challenge- while folks are usually willing to modify their plans somewhat, they are far less willing to abandon them entirely. But those steward interactions are still important- hopefully hikers will be better prepared the next time as a result.

One possible effect of the shuttle buses that I haven't seen anyone mention: I think it will have some moderate impact on the itineraries that hikers select. In particular, I think we'll start to see some number of hikers using the shuttle to undertake thru-trips, where they end at a different trailhead than the one they started at. There's already been some discussion about this on Reddit, with folks looking at the planned shuttle routes and seeing how they can use the shuttles to their advantage to plan thru-hikes with separate start and end points.

To be clear- I don't think that this is inherently a bad thing, especially as it could work to spread hikers out more and alleviate crowding conditions somewhat. However, I do think that some trails that currently see relatively low levels of use (and correspondingly low levels of maintenance) are likely to see increased used with the introduction of the shuttles- and also see increased impacts overall. Given that that impact as a function of level of use tends to follow a logarithmic curve (where each additional unit of use results adds a decreasing amount of additional impact to the total), there is potential here for the overall level of physical impacts in the High Peaks to increase as a result.

I also don't necessarily think that these impacts will be huge (or even necessarily all that consequential) but I'm nevertheless hopeful that some foresight can be given towards altering current trail maintenance patterns towards proactively addressing the likely changes in use patterns that result from shuttle service.

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Old 01-16-2020, 02:49 PM   #17
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"Under the current plan, ridership would be free. “The DEC wants to make this work, so based on how it is now, this will be a non-paying system,” he said."

Oh, it is a paying system, all right, just not the users of the system that are paying. Another hand in my pocket to pay for someone else's ride. ;(
it's about 6 cents per new york state resident.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:03 PM   #18
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As I said over on ADKHighPeaks, I think this is a very encouraging development. Sure, it's piecemeal; and sure, the state continues to do absolutely no comprehensive planning. But it's "something," and that's an improvement over decades of "nothing."

I have been advocating for at least two years for a comprehensive plan for this area. It would include: adequate safe parking and real bathrooms (buildings, not portopotties); real trailhead education (educators, not signage); restoring the Forest Ranger staff (Rangers per acre of State Land); and restoring the (largely abandoned) state trail maintenance function. I think the price tag to do this whole program right is about $100 Million.

So this $2.4 Million is a tiny down payment, but a positive step.

Because there is no comprehensive planning, this isolated positive step is forcing other parts of the system to scramble to get ready. How many parking spaces do we need? Where are the drivers? Do we have adequate bathrooms? These are some of the immediate issues that are being actively worked on. A lot of folks are committed to making this shuttle successful.

Again because there is no comprehensive planning, other parts of the system will have to scramble. As DS rightly points out, this may put additional traffic on parts of the trail system. Will this require additional trail work? Will this create additional "lost hiker" rescue scenarios?

In the perfect world, there would be a comprehensive plan, so when one piece of the system was upgraded, the other parts of the system would be prepared to work with it. But the way this is going is that one piece gets upgraded, and it creates a crisis in other parts if the system. If the crisis gets bad enough to become a "squeaky wheel," then another piece of the system may suddenly get the attention it has long needed.

So I guess we have to live with that process. It's certainly a painful way to get things done, but oh well. I hope this positive upgrade of the shuttles becomes an ongoing program, and maybe it will gradually drive improvements to the rest of the system.
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Old 01-16-2020, 03:22 PM   #19
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Perhaps the funding could come from the tourist advertising budget which I am sure is substantial.
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Old 01-17-2020, 11:24 AM   #20
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it's about 6 cents per new york state resident.
So if it is so reasonable, what is the beef with the users paying for it? Especially the non NYS residents. And remember large numbers of NYS residents pay nothing for anything now, the remainder of us are already carrying them.
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