SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — It’s that time of year when skiers and snowboarders alike are checking their weather apps for that first big snowstorm of the year. UTA is just as excited for the upcoming ski season, announcing it will improve its Ski Bus for riders.

The UTA Ski Bus has routes that run into the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. It takes riders to world-famous resorts such as Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. Since the parking lots for these resorts tend to fill up quickly, especially on a “Powder Day”, the Ski Bus provides a great alternative to get to the mountains.

The enhanced service will include all-day bus service up both Cottonwood Canyons beginning Sunday, Nov. 26 through until Saturday, Apr. 13. Back-up buses will also be in service when available during peak periods to help increase ridership.

Last year, UTA made the decision to reduce bus services to the resorts, raising concerns from several local leaders. UTA cited staffing issues, particularly when it comes to bus drivers, as a reason for the reduced routes. As congestion up to the canyons hindered the winter season in 2023, UTA Salt Lake County and the Cottonwood ski resorts pulled together to launch the Cottonwood Connect shuttle mid-season.

UTA said it has continued that partnership, recognizing the importance of public transit in Utah’s recreational economy while mitigating environmental impacts.

“The engagement between UTA and its partners over the past six months has helped UTA to better understand the transit needs in the canyons and to collaborate with all of the impacted stakeholders to look at innovative ways we could work together to expand service,” said UTA Executive Director Jay Fox.

One innovative solution the partnership created was to expand the already-existing employee vanpool service with resorts. Working directly with the resorts, UTA will support employee-specific buses to help resort employees get to work. UTA anticipates this will help increase skier ridership on its Ski Buses.

“Across our entire transit network, serving employers by providing a reliable means of getting employees to their workplace is a major focus,” said Fox. “Not only will these new and expanded services help employees, but they will also free up seats on our scheduled public transit routes at peak periods.”

All four resorts will begin offering parking reservations for the 2023-24 winter season. The UTA Ski Bus will be offered for free with any resort season pass or the IKON Pass.