Paying to use the Incline? It’s possible according to Manitou’s mayor

Posted at 10:55 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 00:55:26-04

Changes could be on the way for the Manitou Incline as the mayor of Manitou is now considering charging hikers as they get on the trail.

Longtime hikers aren’t thrilled with the idea of charging to get on the trail that’s been free and open to the public for years now.

But on the flip side of things, News 5 was told they are not getting enough donations to maintain Barr Trail.

2744 steps of railroad ties almost a mile long.

"I mean it’s such a good challenge, you know, you want to beat your last time," David Mcnamee, a hiker said.

But the cost of hiking the Incline could be climbing.

"How would you put a user fee into place?" David Adair, President of the Board of Directors for the Incline Friends said.

Mayor Ken Jaray is thinking about charging hikers.

He says they’re expecting a $700,000 loss in revenue this year due to the Cog Railway closing and a lot of people choosing not to pay to park for the Incline, using the free shuttle instead which costs the city about $350,000 a year.

"We are looking at both our income sources and our revenue sources pretty heavily, it’s a pretty significant impact for the city of Manitou Springs so we are looking at everything," Mayor Jaray said.

The mayor says the more people they charge going up the Incline, the more money they’ll have to maintain Barr Trail as people are getting off the Incline.

"It’s really designed to pay for maintenance, pay for our shuttle, pay for the things that we need to do to make the Incline safe," Mayor Jaray said.

Friends of the Incline has a donation box at the base of the trail and just donated $10,000 on behalf of the community they don’t support this idea.

"Our donations come from users so they’re donating in which we, in turn, are able to use for maintenance and that would go away, instead, you’d have bureaucracy of a user fee," Adair said.

Bob Stuka tries to do the incline twice a day.

"I love the Incline very much but if i do that twice a day, it would probably cost me lots of money, I would probably be looking for something else," Stuka said.

But others support the idea.

"If it gets more people affiliated with Colorado, then all the better you know?" Mcnamee said.

"I think we should pay for what we use and I know in the summer there seems to be a lot of rescues, and there’s a lot of cost just to keep this trail up so I think it’s fair as long as it’s a reasonable cost," Greg Johnson, a Manitou resident said.

The mayor doesn’t have a price set for these possible charges.

He also says this is still in its very early stages, they are just hoping to start the conversation with hikers and if it continues to move forward, it will be a decision made jointly with Colorado Springs much further down the road.