Cottonwood Canyon Ski Resorts & Traffic Mitigation
While many of us look forward to the coming winter, the excitement can often be matched with a shared dread of long traffic delays and parking issues. Some of the Cottonwood Canyon ski resorts are making an independent effort to alleviate these issues for both the satisfaction of their clients and the health of their canyons.
Snowbird’s R.I.D.E App
Snowbird launched a R.I.D.E app (short for Reducing Individual Driving for the Environment) during the 2016-17 season to encourage carpooling and UTA bus ridership with a point based incentive program.
The R.I.D.E. app functions similarly to Lyft or Uber, where drivers can pick up passengers at designated locations. Drivers are skiers and snowboarders that use the app and are willing to use their vehicle to get up the canyon. The app will populate and connect nearby drivers and riders, and can be synced to your phone’s contact list to show other app users that users know, in addition to other app users. On top of these functions, the R.I.D.E. app also indicates the total amount of carbon dioxide each person is offsetting through their participation with the app– A clear demonstration of Snowbird’s acknowledgement of the importance of curbing the resort’s carbon footprint.
R.I.D.E carpooling vehicles with three or more people in the car also receive priority parking. Additionally, R.I.D.E rewards those with points from each shared ride or UTA bus trip. These points can be redeemed for Snowbird stickers, swag, transferable Snowbird day-passes, and monthly drawings for early access privileges to the Gadzoom lift.
At the end of the season, individuals with the top three highest scores are rewarded generously with 10-day transferable passes for the following season, and a one or two nights stay at the Cliff Lodge.
This app is the first of its kind in the ski industry and was designed to be scalable for other resorts to use. It demonstrates Snowbird’s commitment to ease the traffic congestion and eliminate as many single-occupant vehicles as possible. The R.I.D.E app partners with Protect Our Winters, Breathe Utah, the National Ski Area Association Climate Challenge (NSAA), Utah Transit Authority and Canyon Transportation.
During the app’s first year approximately 224,000 miles of SOV trips were reduced, resulting in an enormous saving of an estimated 15,000 gallons of gasoline.
Solitude’s Parking Fees
Solitude Mountain Resort recently announced a fee increase for cars that use their parking lot, with an increase . A car with a single individual will be charged $20 for a day of parking, while cars with three occupants will be charged $10 and those with four or more passengers will be charged $5.
This structure encourages carpooling and utilizing UTA ski buses, of which solitude pass holders have free access to. The resort is also allocating a percentage of the revenue from the parking to Breathe Utah.
Simultaneously, Solitude Mountain Resort is adding 200 parking spaces to their existing base parking lot.
Brighton Ski Resort
Brighton Ski Resort is now offering half-day tickets that allow skiers and snowboarders access to the resort between 12:30pm-4:00pm. Some hope that this time frame will reduce the number of cars on the road during the early morning hours of congestion.
Prior to this change, Brighton Ski Resort offered night skiing, full-day tickets and half-day tickets. Half-day tickets allowed a patron to ski for only a four hour window during the day, which began after the skier went through their first lift line.
Is there anything being done outside of the Ski resort’s purview?
Similarly to the R.I.D.E. app, UDOT’s TravelWise program was developed to help combine vehicle trips to improve air quality, conserve energy and increase mobility. It can populate willing drivers with people in their proximity needing rides to similar destinations, and allows carpool trips to be planned in advance. Additionally, it provides users with the best transit connections. While this tool can be utilized throughout the valley, is it something that, with more awareness, could be used to help reduce traffic congestion and increase canyon accessibility while other transportation solutions are being studied.
Encouraging less single occupant vehicle trips through the Cottonwood Canyons is beneficial in reducing wear and tear on the roadways and in eliminating pollutants, climate changing emissions.