UTA ski bus service cut in half for the season

Nov 18, 2022, 6:41 PM | Updated: 6:43 pm

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Ski and snowboard season intensifies this weekend with more resort openings. All four resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons are open, but a big cut in Utah Transit Authority ski bus service is bad news for regular riders.

UTA ski bus service for Big and Little Cottonwood canyons doesn’t get rolling until Dec. 11, and when it does, rider capacity will be cut in half. That compounds a growing traffic problem.

“It’s been getting busier and busier for sure,” Syd Barrett Banfield said Friday as he was gearing up to head up Big Cottonwood Canyon. “Lots of traffic these days compared to how it used to be.”

That’s why he rides the ski bus when he’s not carpooling.

“Just hop on the bus and it’s all taken care of,” he said.

Last year, the UTA ski bus picked up passengers every 15 minutes. This year, those buses will arrive every 30 minutes. Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon each lost one of their two routes, and Banfield is not happy.

“There are going to be a lot more people at these stops,” Banfield said, pointing to the bus stop at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

UTA is short 85 bus operators in the Salt Lake County service area, and they have to spread that shortage across the county.

“It’s an important, vital part of the picture, and we know that it’s popular,” UTA spokesperson Carl Arky said. “We do want to provide more service as we go along, we just have to be able to have the operators to do that.”

Snowbird will use shuttles and UTA Rideshare vans to get their employees to work and keep them out of the buses.

“There’s no question this last minute reduction in UTA ski bus service is going to be a major impact for skiers and employees here in the canyon this year,” Dave Fields, president and GM of Snowbird Resort, said.

Everybody needs to plan to do their part.

“The number one message for everybody is carpool, get with a friend, don’t drive up this canyon alone,” Fields said.

Banfield hitched a ride Friday but still plans to take the ski bus when it’s running.

“I don’t want to pay for parking and contribute to all the congestion up there. One less car is one less problem,” he said

UTA is trying to recruit more bus operators. When the service starts in about three weeks, check for new schedules on Ride UTA.

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UTA ski bus service cut in half for the season