SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Anyone trying to get up a Little or Big Cottonwood Canyon this season might’ve noticed traffic and congestion, but now, they could be seeing some relief as new additional shuttle services with Cottonwood Connect start Thursday.

“The traffic is unbelievable on busy days, weekends and snowy days,” said Gary Engstrom, who was going up the canyons to snowboard.

Long lines and long waits are what many say they’ve had to deal with when traveling to Little and Big Cotton Canyons, especially as the need for more transportation increased after UTA announced in September they needed to cut back on service in the canyons due to a driver shortage.

“This is a really big development, It’s a major feat for us. It’s something we were all collaboratively working with UTA, Salt Lake County and the resorts to pull together really quickly,” said Kaitlin Eskelson, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake.

Earlier this month, the Salt Lake County Council voted to allot over 200 thousand dollars for additional shuttle services. It’s funded in part by Visit Salt Lake, UTA and several resorts. Eskelson says she hopes it will lead to more solutions going forward. 

“Our congestion problem up Little and Big Cottonwood is an issue depending on the day. We hope this will help. I really view this as a pilot program  for what this could look like moving forward. It’s not going to be the end all be all solution, but what it gives us is it allows to start looking at micro-transit options that could be really beneficial in the future,” Eskelson said.

The service comes in the form of mini-coaches and passenger vans provided by Snow Country Limousine. Areas being serviced include Cottonwood Heights, Midvale and Sandy with stops at hotels and park-and-ride lots.

Some of those headed up the canyon today say they hope it can provide some relief when it comes to traffic.

“More mass transit up these canyons, less cars on the road,” said Engstrom. “Anything would help.” The service will be available Thursdays through Sundays, including holidays. Passengers will need to make a reservation ahead of time and pay a ten-dollar round trip fee.

The service, which started Thursday, Jan. 26 will run through to April 16, 2023.