Oct 4, 2022 - News

Utah ski industry voices displeasure with limited bus routes

Skiers going down a big mountain slope.

Skiers arrive at the bottom of the hill at Snowbird. Photo: Douglas C. Pizac/AP

Staffing shortages are forcing the Utah Transit Authority to temporarily limit or halt bus routes, including services to ski resorts, ahead of the winter.

Driving the news: Last week, UTA said it would adjust or suspend 20 of its 91 bus routes starting Change Day, on Dec. 11, due to bus operator shortages.

  • "When we don’t have enough operators, you have got to make some adjustments," said UTA spokesperson Carl Arky.
  • Since the pandemic, UTA has faced difficulties retaining workers and enticing applicants to join.

Why it matters: Skiers rely on bus routes up Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons as alternatives to driving the heavily trafficked roads.

  • The change in ski service routes also comes as Utah transportation officials recommend a $550-million gondola to relieve traffic congestion in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Details: Route 953, which travels from Midvale Fort Union Station to Alta Ski Resort, will be suspended. Route 901, which travels from Salt Lake City to Park City, will also be suspended.

  • Route 972, which travels from Midvale to Solitude/Brighton will change from a 15-minute service to a 30-minute service.
  • Route 994, which goes from Sandy to Snowbird/Alta, will also shift to a 30-minute service.

What they're saying: Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty said more public transit options for skiers would benefit the environment, traffic and safety.

  • "Ski Utah and our partner resorts were disappointed to hear this news so close to the start of the season, and we're not 100% sure how it will impact traffic," he said in a statement to Axios Salt Lake City.
  • Rafferty said they are "grateful that there will still be buses running" and encouraged people to still use them or carpool when possible.

Meanwhile, Snowbird called the ski-service routes "critical" for guests and employees.

  • "We are working closely with UTA to find alternative transportation options," Snowbird said in a statement.

What's next: Arky said he didn't anticipate operator shortages being alleviated before next summer.


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