Riders take advantage of new ski shuttle service for resorts in both Cottonwood Canyons

Jan 29, 2023, 5:15 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Skiers and snowboarders had another option for transportation up the mountain this weekend through the Cottonwood Connect Ski Shuttle.

The service started rides Thursday and ran through Sunday. It offered three different routes from Sandy, Cottonwood Heights, and Midvale, which go to the Alta, Solitude, Brighton, and Snowbird resorts.

Ryan Mack, director of media and communications for Visit Salt Lake, said the shuttle had over 700 rides during the first weekend of operations. The schedule allows for a maximum of just under 800 rides so far.

“There was a reduction in UTA bus services, so we wanted to step in with UTA, with the county, with ski resorts to provide more ski transportation up the canyons,” Mack said.

The shuttle costs $10 for a round-trip reservation, which must be booked online in advance.

“Funding came from Salt Lake County, Visit Salt Lake, UTA, and the ski resorts, and in total, we raised about $550,000 for this project this year,” Mack explained.

Riders will either be picked up by a sprinter van or a mini coach. Jeff Scheid and his wife, Jenny, took advantage of the shuttle service. They’re visitors from Las Vegas.

“I really like this,” Jeff Scheid said. “It was comfortable, staff was great. For ten bucks, they pull right up, makes it so convenient for us.”

Mack said the majority of passengers on his shuttle bus Sunday afternoon were from out of state. He said the service is highly convenient for tourists who don’t want to rent a car and don’t want to wait in long lines for the UTA ski bus.

“I don’t think this is an end-all solution for the canyons, but any little thing we can do to get people out of single occupancy vehicles and into public transportation is a win for us,” Mack said.

The Cottonwood Connect shuttles might be able to cut the line on high-traffic days.

“On busy days, or when the canyon’s closed, UTA buses and our buses with Cottonwood Connect actually get a police escort up the canyon to bypass traffic,” Mack said.

Skiers Olivia Marsh and Luke Howard said they usually rely on the UTA ski buses for transportation.

“We prefer the UTA bus just because it’s included with our pass,” Howard said.

Marsh said she would consider taking the Cottonwood Connect.

“I could see the new system being really helpful coming down the canyon because that’s when there can sometimes be a lot of accidents. Everyone who came up during the day needs to get home somehow,” she said.

Skier Ally Cirenza said that while the shuttle is a creative solution to traffic congestion and air quality issues, it could be cost-prohibitive.

“It would be even more enticing if it was free,” Cirenza expressed. “I’m in support of anything that isn’t the gondola.”

This shuttle service runs through Apr. 16. Reservations for the rest of the season open up Monday, Jan. 30. Mack recommends users book in advance.

He said this is a pilot program, so there are only plans to run the shuttle this season.

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Riders take advantage of new ski shuttle service for resorts in both Cottonwood Canyons