Veggie oil fuels new shuttle service
Denver entrepreneur offers eco-friendly rides to Vail, Colorado ski resorts
Summit County — A Denver man is trying to green up skiing – or, more specifically, the trip to Vail, Steamboat Springs and other Colorado resorts – with veggie oil.
Kristopher Klain last month started offering “carbon-neutral” luxury shuttle service to Colorado’s mountain resorts using seven-passenger SUVs powered by vegetable oil from Colorado restaurants.
“It’s a smaller step that proves a point,” said Klain, explaining that he’s been marketing his startup mainly via the Internet and word of mouth.
An avid skier, the 31-year-old graduated from Ohio State with a degree in mechanical engineering and works as a waiter in a Denver restaurant.
It was the restaurant connection, with easy access to a source of used vegetable oil, that gave Klain the idea to dip his toes into the market.
“I did the engine conversion with the idea of starting this to see if there’s enough of a market to make it a business,” he said. “And I left myself an exit strategy – that is, I’ll have a pretty cool car if it doesn’t work out.”
Klain’s vehicles run on straight vegetable oil, which is basically just used oil from a restaurant deep fat fryer that’s been filtered. It’s a slightly different product from biodiesel, which requires an additional step to produce.
“It’s really the simplest way I could think of to truly keep Colorado green,” Klain said.
“The environmental cost of a standard shuttle trip to the mountains is simply too steep, so I decided to create a low-impact alternative. It’s a way for eco-minded travelers to get up to the mountains and leave the smallest footprint possible.”
Klain gets his used oil through his connections in the restaurant world and filters it himself, maintaining a small stockpile. Other than the time spent collecting and producing his veggie oil, he doesn’t have any fuel costs for his shuttle.
Klain said he’s focused on luxury as well as the environment. He provides a beverage service and DVD viewing during the ride up the hill. Passengers also can recharge their laptops during the trip, he said.
Klain said his prices – $575 from DIA to Steamboat Springs – are competitive with Colorado Mountain Express, which also offers a private SUV service for mountain runs in addition to its standard van service.
For rates and reservations, visit http://www.coloradogreenshuttle.com.
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It seems like the best celestial events too often happen in the wee hours of the morning, in the cold dead of winter.