UTA won't provide buses to ski resorts until mid-December

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah resorts are reporting "phenomenal" skiing with the recent storm. But if you want to take part in it, don't count on public transportation to get you there.

Usually UTA buses run regularly during the day, getting dozens of boarders and skiers safely to the resorts without all the traffic. But it'll be another two weeks until UTA does that.

In the meantime, you will have to find your own ride.

We don't have it in our budget to start ski service early. It would cost half a million dollars to start ski services at Thanksgiving as opposed to Dec. 12.

–UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter

Fresh powder tops the mountains up Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Resorts boast better than average snow fall -- up to 11 feet. But skiers like John Winter have to take their own wheels up the canyon to get to the lifts.

"It's a hard road on a car," he said.

UTA is not running buses to the resorts until Dec. 12.

"It doesn't surprise me at all because it's an economic issue," Winter said.

Connie Marshall
Connie Marshall

He's right. When UTA made the budget about a year ago for this ski season, money was tight.

"We don't have it in our budget to start ski service early," said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter. "It would cost half a million dollars to start ski services at Thanksgiving as opposed to Dec. 12."

Even if they did have the money now, they don't have the drivers.

"We have to train 80 to 100 operators to run the ski service every year and those operators are still in training," Carpenter said. "Some are still being hired."

Carpenter says operators have to have a good record of driving a regular route before being considered for the route up the canyons.

Resorts like Alta work closely with UTA during the season, even encouraging bus ridership.

"It's good for our skiers to use a bus," said Connie Marshall with Alta.

In fact, most, if not all resorts pay bus fare for certain passengers.

"Alta provides full bus fare for all season pass holders and all employees that work in the town of Alta," said Connie Marshall.

For now, there is one bus in the morning and one in the evening that shuttles employees to resorts, but it won't be until Dec. 25 that folks like Winter can use it.

"We'll look forward to that and it will be coming before vacationers get in town," Marshall said.

When buses run Dec.12, they will go up the canyon every 15 minutes during peak morning and evening hours. The ski bus services will stop in April.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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