LOCAL NEWS

UTA ski bus ends seasonal service with ridership gains

Apr 12, 2024, 12:46 PM

SANDY — Warmer temperatures mean the Utah Transit Authority’s ski buses will be slowing down soon.

UTA’s ski bus season comes to a close on Saturday, but before the last shift happens, KSL TV’s Karah Brackin got to catch one last ride up.

“Ever since I was a kid, about 7 years old, I always told my family, one day I’d be a bus driver,” said Josh Memea, better known as “Uncle Maui” on social media.

Add to that title: ski bus driver.

“Something I love to do,” Memea said.

Over the last few years, he has logged hundreds of miles driving up and down the Cottonwood canyons.

“It’s about an 8-10 mile trip from here to the top of the canyon in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and Big Cottonwood Canyon, it’s about a 17-mile trip one way, so we figure about four or five years, you know, you do the math…” Memea said.

Before you know it, you become one of the local legends.

“Oh yeah, yeah I’ve ridden with him several times,” said Ken Schwartz.

Schwartz rode his way up to Alta on Friday, which marked his 90th day of skiing this season.

“I’m gonna come down and buy a pair of skis for next year, and that’s about it,” Schwartz said.

At 83, he has some pro tips that have been in the making after skiing for the last 50 years.

“Bend forward on your waist. Get your shins into your boots. Stay forward… just like Bucky said, it’s the fountain of youth. Just keeps you young!” said Schwartz.

With sights set to ride the ski bus again next season, he plans to continue catching the bus.

“Oh yeah, I’m gonna miss the bus,” said Schwartz.

Memea will be right back ready to go.

“The people. I have to say the people. The scenery’s great, but ultimately for me, I just love having the people on board: Being able to do what I do and be able to take people from point A to point B safely,” Maui said.

According to UTA’s preliminary data, 2023-24 ski bus passenger trips through March point to an 8% increase on Salt Lake County routes and a 4.3% overall gain from the previous ski season.

“These numbers will help us plan for increased riders next year and continue to improve wait times, route efficiency and a positive experience,” said Andres Colman, regional general manager for UTA’s Salt Lake Service Unit.

Until the next ski bus season, Memea is calling this year a successful year.

“That’s a successful trip,” he said.

Resorts instituted new parking restrictions this season, which Memea said upped the number of people hopping onto the buses.

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UTA ski bus ends seasonal service with ridership gains