SALT LAKE CITY -- Waiting for the ski bus is typically the more miserable part of a day on the slopes, but now the Utah Transit Authority has something that will make that wait in the cold a little more bearable.
Skiers and snowboarders at the resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons can now relax in insulated ski shelters while they wait for their ride.
Patrons, like James Ellis, said the change was a much-needed improvement.
"There are days, if you're at the very end of the day, when there's a ton of people--I've had days where I've waited for an hour because the buses are full, and this is the last bus stop going down," he said.
Engineers said the old shelters gave little protection from the elements and could only hold five people. The new shelters have tempered glass and can hold up to 20 people. The shelters are designed to withstand winds of up to 100 mph.
The project began about 6 months ago and was a partnership between business and government agencies. Officials with UTA said that cooperation made the process quick and cost-effective.
"Using private and public partnerships, Snowbird and Alta were both aggressive in helping us secure the work,” said Jacob Splan, an engineering and construction planner for UTA. “The Forest Service and [Utah Department of Transportation] both assisted in approving permits and getting us through the process, so we followed all the rules, and then we were able to buy the work locally and get it done."
Splan said the response has been universally positive.
"We've had great feedback already,” he said. “The operators are happy about it; they know now where to look for our clients waiting for the bus. I've had good feedback just from users waiting for the bus, and just this last week with the holidays, we've seen how busy it is, and carpooling and using transit are the best options."
Ellis also touted the success of the plan.
"Keeps things comfortable, makes the ride more enjoyable, and it makes it so you can wait for a bus longer because usually when there's good snow you have to wait for a while,” he said.
Jack Robertson is another skier pleased with the changes.
"Oh, definitely when I come here on a powder day and it's really windy and snowy, I just chill in there, and it's warm 'til the bus comes,” he said.