Federal rule blocks bus service to Utah ski area

Federal rule blocks bus service to Utah ski area

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- A federal regulation that keeps Logan from offering public transit service to a local ski area is unfair, says the family that owns Beaver Mountain Resort.

The Cache Valley Transit District can't offer the bus service anytime private operators offer to do it, yet those outfits have proven unreliable or want to charge so much money nobody will pay the fare and they end up running no buses, say Ted and Marge Seeholzer.

That leaves Beaver Mountain without any bus service for a second winter in a row. Parents are unhappy about it because they have to drive 27 winding miles up Logan Canyon every time their children want to ski.

This winter, the Seeholzers said, Trailways offered the service for $25 roundtrip -- almost as much as a child's lift ticket. The Cache Valley Transit District used to charge only $7.

Because nobody is willing to pay the $25, Trailways hasn't actually offered any service, but its mere offer of service has blocked the local transit agency from picking up the slack, Ted Seeholzer said.

He doesn't think the Trailways proposal was ever workable because the company doesn't have any operations in Cache valley and would have had to dispatch buses from nearly 80 miles away in Salt Lake City.

A Trailways call center employee told The Associated Press that nobody from the company was available for a response until after the holidays on Monday.

The Utah Transit Authority doesn't have a problem running buses up to ski areas in Salt Lake City's Cottonwood Canyons.

Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter said the UTA offers regular, year-round service in the Cottonwood Canyons -- not the kind of seasonal charter service that binds Beaver Mountain.

The Seeholzer family says their bus conundrum is a "lose-lose" for everybody. They want parents to lobby lawmakers to lift or modify the restriction that keeps the Cache Valley Transit District from offering affordable service to the ski area.

"Maybe influential people could go talk to their legislators," Marge Seeholzer said.

Skiers filled plenty of CVTD buses in the past, she said. The resort did pay a small subsidy for days when buses ran light, Ted Seeholzer said. The resort operated in a partnership with the transit agency, but every October it has to take proposals from any private operators.

Last year, a couple of Logan residents offered to provide the charter service to Beaver Mountain, then backed out and refused to respond to dispatch calls when they realized they'd have to drive buses at times on snowpacked roads, Marge Seeholzer said.

Those would-be operators, however, managed to block the public transit agency from offering reliable service.

CVTD spokeswoman Lisa Peterson says her agency's hands are tied by Federal Transportation Administration regulations and it can't step in to provide bus service when others offer to do it, even if they don't deliver.

Beaver Mountain, in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is the oldest family ski area in the U.S. and has been in operation since 1939. It charges $40 for a lift ticket, or $30 for children under 12.


(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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