BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4) — The Salt Lake County Council has agreed to appropriate more than $200,000 in funding to increase public transportation services to ski resorts on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The goal of the new “Cottonwood Connect” service is to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and enhance the visitor experience, according to Visit Salt Lake, a nonprofit dedicated to boosting the city’s tourism industry.
“We felt strongly about helping to create a way for our visitors and locals to enjoy more options to reach our mountain playground,” said Kaitlin Eskelson, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
The council voted 7-1 on Tuesday to appropriate $239,520 in funding to a private company, Snow Country Limousine, to arrange a supplementary shuttle service for the 2023 ski season.
This decision comes after the Utah Transit Authority made adjustments to its ski service routes in multiple counties beginning Dec. 11, 2022, due to bus driver shortages. Route 953, which goes from Midvale to Snowbird and Alta, was suspended. The frequency of the other two ski routes in Salt Lake County was changed from every 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
This new shuttle service is sure to provide some relief for workers and ski-pass holders who go up to the mountains regularly.
“I really like being in Salt Lake City, and I like working, but this traffic and the inability to get to work is definitely a downside, unfortunately,” said Hannah Martin, a bartender at Solitude Resort.
The service will run from Thursday to Sunday beginning Jan. 26, 2023, and conclude on April 16, 2023. A round-trip ticket costs $10. Passengers are required to make reservations through an online portal, which should be released in the near future.
Snow Country Limousine is expected to provide different methods of transportation for the service, which Salt Lake County representatives say will come in the form of mini-coaches and large passenger vans.
“This was something we heard as being a need,” Eskelson said.
Cottonwood Connect will serve people living in Midvale, Cottonwood Heights and Sandy with stops at hotels, parks and lots in partnership with UTA.
It is estimated that the service will have a weekly capacity of 784 passengers each week in the beginning and eventually increase to 1,120 passengers by the end of the season.
“Cottonwood Connect” is funded in part by Visit Salt Lake, UTA, Alta, Snowbird, Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton Resort.