Shuttle service to and from Fairhaven for Ski to Sea this year should be less crowded than last year, because officials have added people-carrying capacity.
Other changes this year: The cost is $3, instead of $2, and you'll get a hand stamp instead of a ticket.
Event organizers encourage people to use shuttles to access Bellingham points, particularly the Fairhaven Festival, which closes streets and draws large crowds.
"Anybody who has been stuck in gridlock trying to park in Fairhaven can imagine how much easier it would be to just step off the bus and walk into the party," said Rodd Pemble, chairman of the race's green team, which aims to find ways to make the event more environmentally friendly.
Shuttle service will be similar to last year's: One loop, by The Baker Bus, will carry people to Zuanich Point Park, downtown and Fairhaven. Another loop, operated by Bellair Charters, will carry people between Western Washington University's parking lot C and Fairhaven.
Last year, The Baker Bus service had one large bus and two smaller shuttles, with one in reserve, Pemble said. There was some crowding between the downtown stop (in front of Boundary Bay Brewery along Railroad Avenue) and Fairhaven. This year, they'll have two large buses, a smaller shuttle and one vehicle in reserve.
There also will be a little more capacity for the WWU-to-Fairhaven route, said Jordan Tarrida, who is helping to coordinate the service for the Old Fairhaven Association, which puts on the Fairhaven Festival. Last year, Bellair loaned a bus to The Baker Bus because one of its vehicles broke down, he said. This year, they hope to have all three buses available to run the loop between WWU and Fairhaven.
The WWU-Fairhaven route carried 1,300-1,400 people last year, Tarrida said.
In Fairhaven, the buses on both routes will stop on 12th Street near McKenzie Avenue.
This year, instead of tickets, shuttle riders will get hand stamps, which will work for unlimited rides on both routes. Last year, many people lost their tickets, Tarrida said.
The hand stamps also reduce waste, said Pemble, who works as recycling manager at Sanitary Service Co. in Bellingham. As part of an effort to bring people downtown to eat, the nonprofit Downtown Bellingham Partnership is encouraging downtown businesses to provide discounts to people with hand stamps.
TAKE THE SHUTTLE
What: Two shuttles will carry people around Bellingham for Ski to Sea.
Stops: One shuttle will travel between Zuanich Point Park, downtown (at Boundary Bay Brewery) and Fairhaven (on 12th Street near McKenzie Avenue). Another will run between Western Washington University (at parking lot C) and the Fairhaven stop.
Cost: $3, unlimited rides (cash and exact change only; drivers accept tips). Pay for hand stamps at WWU and downtown stops.
Schedule: Buses start at 11 a.m., last run from Zuanich is 6 p.m., last to leave Fairhaven is 8 p.m.
Volunteer: People interested in helping coordinate the WWU park and ride for 2013 can contact Ellen Gray at 360-441-1617 or Jordan Tarrida at 360-220-6733.
More information: Go to SkitoSea.com and click on "Go Team Green" under the "Race Guide" drop-down menu.