A letter from the Town regarding the Dec. 25 and 26 gondola closure

Categories: Transportation

To the Mountain Village/Telluride community,

This past weekend we experienced an unprecedented disruption in our public transportation system due to the closure of the gondola on December 25 and 26.

The Town of Mountain Village Transit Department prides itself on providing safe and reliable transportation to our local community and visitors, and when we do not meet those goals, we take it very personally. When the gondola goes down, especially for long periods of time, we realize the immense impact this has on our commuters, visitors and businesses that rely on us.

As the holiday weekend approached, the gondola began experiencing sporadic outages. While never a safety concern for our passengers, the gondola began to shut down so frequently on the morning of December 25 that gondola staff had to no choice but to close certain sections of the gondola until transit staff could assure the gondola could run consistently at full capacity.

Unfortunately, the diagnostic tools typically utilized by staff to assist with resolving gondola malfunctions were themselves failing, making troubleshooting significantly more difficult. Gondola staff, along with support from the lift manufacturer, Doppelmayr, worked tirelessly to manually scour the entire gondola system to identify and resolve the problem.

After 32 straight hours of troubleshooting, and without the assistance of diagnostic tools, gondola staff was able to identify the culprit, a faulty wiring connection at one of the grip force safety sensors in the station. Once the problem was identified, gondola staff was able to quickly fix the issue and the gondola finally reopened at 5 p.m. on December 26.

Our gondola staff strives to acknowledge our failures, learn from our challenges, and celebrate our successes. We are incredibly proud of the team of talented and dedicated technicians, several of whom missed Christmas with their young children and families, to stick with the troubleshooting process until resolution. In particular, we wish to thank Larry Forsythe, Conor Intemann and his maintenance team, Rob Johnson and his entire gondola operations staff.

As the gondola system continues to age, we have no doubt our staff will face similar challenges in the future. However, the dedication and effort put forth by our staff this past weekend gives us confidence there is no challenge they cannot overcome.

We also send thanks to the guest services team at Telluride Ski and Golf for helping to redirect our passengers to bus services. Lastly, thank you to San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), for providing additional bus capacity, and to Matt Gulini from Doppelmayr who dropped everything on Christmas Day to drive from Salt Lake City to Mountain Village to provide technical assistance.

Kindest regards,

Jim Loebe
Transit Director
Town of Mountain Village

Paul Wisor
Interim Town Manager
Town of Mountain Village

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