No Winter Park Ski Train This Season, Thanks To The Coronavirus

September 30, 2020
Passengers unload from the Winter Park Express on Jan. 7, 2017, at Winter Park. 
Passengers unload from the Winter Park Express on Jan. 7, 2017, at Winter Park. 
Andrew Kenney/Denverite
Passengers unload from the Winter Park Express on Jan. 7, 2017, at Winter Park.

If you're going to ski or snowboard this upcoming season and you live in the Denver metro, plan to drive.

Amtrak will not operate the Winter Park Express, and the Colorado Department of Transportation may not run its Snowstang buses that served Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Steamboat Springs last year.

Winter Park Resort and Amtrak revived the train in 2017 after a private operator shut down an earlier incarnation in 2009. This suspension should be far shorter.

"Winter Park Resort and Amtrak plan to resume Winter Park Express service in 2022," a release from both parties reads.

Amtrak has reduced the number of people on its trains across its nation-wide system to allow for social distancing. Given those requirements, Amtrak and Winter Park said they agreed that "it was not possible to operate the train successfully this season."

The service sold nearly 20,000 tickets for its winter/spring 2019 season, a success that led Amtrak to add Friday service the following year. Both parties say they'll use this winter to "look for ways to make the Winter Park Express even better when it relaunches."

Meanwhile, CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson said pandemic-related uncertainties and health requirements may also doom the Snowstang bus service this season.

Social distancing needs will limit the number of tickets CDOT could sell for each bus, which would increase costs. But the Transportation Commission requires that the Snowstang operate without any taxpayer subsidies.

The commission will decide the service's fate at its October or November meeting, Wilson said.

Editor's note: Citing a Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman, an earlier version of this story said CDOT had already canceled its Snowstang service this ski season. CDOT now says that decision has not yet been made.