Breckenridge transit service for the general public was started in 1861 with the Denver, Bradford, and Blue River Wagon Road Company using stagecoaches to link the infant community to goods and passenger transfer.
In 1882, a depot site for the Denver, South Park, and Pacific Railroad was secured, bringing rail service to the community. Breckenridge’s success doomed other rival mining camps, including Swan City, Preston, and Lincoln City. The railroad route over 11,481-foot Boreas Pass was a particularly difficult segment, and keeping the tracks clear of snow was necessary to reach the remote Breckenridge location. The winter of 1898-99 proved particularly challenging when a record heavy snow fell. Using a rotary snowplow and multiple engines, the track was finally cleared on April 24, and service resumed after a 78-day snow blockade. In town, residents tunneled through the snow to get from one business to another during that heavy snow year.
Today, visitors can see good old Engine No. 9 that was used for rail service in Breckenridge and a Rotary Snowplow. Both are on display in the Town’s train park, which is located near the Stephen C. West Ice Arena on Boreas Pass Road.
Rail continued to be important to the Breckenridge community until the automobile became a dominant transportation mode. The railroad tracks were eventually retired and removed in the 1930’s.
Passage to Breckenridge was a long trip by automobile until the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels were constructed in 1973 and 1979, and substantially cut down the travel time to Summit County. This transportation innovation fueled the growth of the ski and recreation industry.
Most recently in the mid 1980s, the Town of Breckenridge starting using rubber tired trolleys to provide public transportation. This free public transportation service was contracted out until 1997 when the Town of Breckenridge took it over. It was in November 1997 that the Town began to operate the Free Ride transit system with more modern transit coach buses.
In conjunction with the county's free transit system, The Summit Stage, Breckenridge offers convenient intermodal transit service in Breckenridge with connections to points throughout Summit County. The Town of Breckenridge worked in partnership with the Breckenridge Ski Resort to build the Breck Connect Gondola in 2007. The Gondola serves as the base of our intermodal transit center, Breckenridge Station. This station building serves as our main hub for transit service in Breckenridge.
November 2012 marked the 15th year of transit operations for the Breckenridge Free Ride. The Breckenridge Free Ride and its dedicated employees have provided 6,826,812 passenger trips since 1997 and has saved 2,027,055 pounds of CO2 from the community’s environment versus personal vehicle use for the same trips over the last fifteen years. Thank you for Taking a Free Ride! We’re still counting passengers and appreciate your riding.