UTA’s ski bus service in the Cottonwood Canyons saw a big boost in ridership this winter, thanks to a redesign of the service last December that increased frequency, provided all-day service, improved parking capacity and created better connections to and from FrontRunner and TRAX, combined with a season of big storms and generous snowfall.
In December 2016, ridership on these Salt Lake County ski bus routes increased by 23 percent on weekdays, 24 percent on Saturdays and 50 percent on Sundays over that of December 2015. The comparison includes only the days when ski bus service operated, as the service started on different dates in December 2015 and 2016.
In January 2017, ski bus ridership increased by 33 percent on weekdays, 31 percent on Saturdays and 48 percent on Sundays over January of last year. In February, ridership on these ski bus routes saw even more dramatic growth, increasing by nearly 50 percent on weekdays, 76 percent on Saturdays and 88 percent on Sundays over February 2016.
This year’s plentiful snow also helped attract ski bus riders, but streamlining and redesigning the Cottonwood Canyon ski bus service played a critical role in ridership growth. UTA Senior Manager of Service Planning Christopher Chesnut said ridership on the redesigned Salt Lake County routes has increased at a much higher rate than ridership on other ski bus routes in UTA’s service area.
“People have really liked the flexibility and frequency of this service. They can go up skiing in the morning and be back in the afternoon. We’ve also heard that the [route] design is easier to understand as far as where you need to catch the bus.”
Salt Lake County ski bus routes and schedules are not expected to see dramatic changes next winter, but UTA will continue to improve the service. Chesnut said UTA is working with ski resorts to find ways to get buses in and out of resort parking lots faster. The agency is also working with the Utah Department of Transportation on ways to decrease the time buses spend waiting in canyon traffic. Lorin Simpson, regional general manager of UTA’s Salt Lake Business Unit, said UTA is also aware of rider concerns regarding crowded buses and will continue to look for ways to accommodate the growing number of skiers and snowboarders taking the bus.
UTA’s Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon service is scheduled to end Saturday, April 8. To learn more about this year’s ski service improvements, visit http://www.rideuta.com/Rider-Info/UTA-Ski-Service.