continued “People become accustomed to that service,” Bowers said. “When you come to a ski town, you want to have transportation. People don’t want to drive. What it does is creates in their minds that there’s a downtown North Creek.“
Before the shuttle service, many skiers would stay in lodging facilities closer to Gore Mountain and sometimes bypass the business district altogether. The shuttle bus encourages downtown visitation and connects visitors to different parts of the town, including the nearby Ski Bowl Park.
“The shuttle was only one part of a very large puzzle that is slowly being put together,” Bowers said. “But without the shuttle, those other pieces don’t go together so easily.”
But the ski shuttle system didn’t come together easily, and it wasn’t handed to North Creek on a platter like in other resort towns. This was a grassroots effort. Business owners pooled their resources — meeting weekly to brainstorm fresh ideas and work out problems — and created the North Creek Business Alliance from scratch. They applied for Occupancy Tax funding from the county and the town to hire Brant Lake Taxi for the ski shuttle and to finally buy their own buses.
“It never would have happened had we not had, or continue to have, municipal and county financial support,” Beaudin said.
But North Creek’s shuttle funding is unique.
“It is municipal, but it really is Occupancy Tax money,” said Business Alliance Treasurer Katie Nightingale, who is also a member of the Johnsburg Town Council. “Sure we’d like to wean ourselves from it, but it’s not tax dollars that we’re spending. There’s a difference.”
By comparison, the ski shuttle between Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington is an Essex County Transportation bus, which is funded by the state. In North Creek, the ski shuttle has been financed by visitors who are charged an Occupancy Tax (aka bed tax) during their stay in Warren County. That tax has been distributed by the county and the town of Johnsburg. It is not property tax money.
The long-term goal is to make the North Creek shuttle bus system self-sufficient, without funding from the Occupancy Tax. Bus advertising revenue is expected to help pay for upkeep in the future.
For now, North Creek Business Alliance officials are repeating the old Greyhound bus slogan, “Leave the driving to us.”
“Come to North Creek. Park your car. Ride the shuttle. Ski all day. Come back to downtown North Creek. Shop, eat and spend the night,” Bowers said.