For the second consecutive summer, a shuttle will be about the only option for hundreds of thousands of people to reach the top of Pikes Peak.
Starting Friday, those visiting the mountain must park in a lower lot and shuttle to the summit to alleviate stress on the highway and peak as construction on a new Summit House continues, said Jack Glavan, manager of the enterprise.
Construction on the $50 million, 38,000-square-foot project began last June and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020. The shuttle service was launched because of the increased traffic from construction crews and limited space atop the mountain. With a fleet of more than 30 Ford vans, the shuttles began that same month. They are mandatory for everyone except those with special needs or small children in car seats.
Glavan said that the shuttles will be mandated for the busiest months at the mountain. Last year, the service ended in September, but this year it might continue to mid-October, he said.
Visitors don’t pay extra to ride in the shuttle. Entering the highway, they’re charged the typical summer rates of $15 per person or $50 for a carload of five. Several miles up the road, they’re told where to park. Shuttles run in five- to 10-minute intervals with no stops along the way.
Last year, the service cost the enterprise about $1.3 million, Glavan said. About $1 million was included in the 2018 budget, while the rest came from customers who would have otherwise ridden the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which is closed for maintenance and expected to reopen in 2020.
Glavan said 597,233 people visited Pikes Peak in 2018, up from about 500,000 the year before.
This year’s shuttle service is expected to cost a total of about $2 million, Glavan said, but that cost also depends on how long the service lasts.
Crews are scheduled to pour concrete on the peak this week, Glavan said, but precipitation in the forecast might dampen that plan. Enough of the Summit House is expected to be finished by October for the crews to be able to work through the winter. So far, construction is still on track for a fall 2020 opening, he said.