June 30, 2010
Wasatch Crest Shuttle is a transportation company with the goals of enhancing recreational experiences in the Northern Wasatch Mountains and reducing the negative effects caused by users and tourists. This weekend marks Wasatch Crest Shuttle’s seventh year providing scheduled mountain bike shuttles from Mill Creek Canyon to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, or Guardsman Pass. Mountain bike shuttles are $15 per person and are available on even numbered days coinciding with the trail rules of upper Mill Creek Canyon - no bikes on odd numbered days. On weekends and holidays that are even numbered there are 11 shuttles from 7 am till 2:30 pm, every 45 minutes. Weekdays have two shuttles: 7 am and 5 pm. Reservations are not required, but recommended, for scheduled shuttles. Unscheduled shuttles are available by reservation only with a minimum charge.
Wasatch Crest Shuttle is equipped to shuttle six to ten riders at a time. The bikes are loaded onto trailers with Yakima High Roller bike racks. This set up allows for a maximum load without your bike getting knocked around in transit.
UTA Rideshare endorsed Wasatch Crest Shuttle for “…develop[ing] transportation alternatives that enhance air quality, conserve energy, and improve mobility along the Wasatch Front. UTA Rideshare appreciates Wasatch Crest Shuttle for providing outdoor enthusiasts a chance to leave their car at home.” According to the National Forest Service, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, visitors to the Tri-Canyon area will make increasing use of mass transit to reduce the congestion on the highways, and mass transit opportunities will expand to include year-round operations (Revised Forest Plan Wasatch-Cache National Forest, February 2003, 4-162). Next, Solitude Ski Area’s Master Development Plan states that traffic counts from 1990 to 1995 in Big Cottonwood Canyon show that during weekends, holidays, and the peak of fall foliage, the number of vehicles traveling SR 190 is similar to that of peak winter uses (184.108.40.206). Leaving your car behind to enjoy the Wasatch is an option that is clearly long overdue.
Wasatch Crest Shuttle was founded in 2004 by Andrew Duggins. While on a trip to Brian Head, Andrew saw Gorge’s Bike Shop’s mountain bike shuttle and recognized a similar opportunity in the Cottonwood Canyons. In addition to making the Wasatch Crest Trail more accessible and convenient, the mountain bike shuttle reduces the number of cars in the canyon in the summer and lessens the demand for parking at trailheads.
Often riding by himself, Andrew and many others have been forced to either alter their riding plans or scrap the ride altogether because of the logistics required to ride the Wasatch Crest Trail. The trail is a 22+ mile ride/hike from Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon back down through Mill Creek Canyon. The actual route is a combination of Wasatch Crest Trail, Great Western Trail, and Big Water Trails. To extend the single track experience, most people add Pipeline Trail from Elbow Fork to Rattlesnake Gulch in Mill Creek. For one to complete this route, a two car shuttle has been required. Some of the accessibility problems include requiring two riders-no singles, finding someone to shuttle you that doesn’t ride, and limited parking options at the trailhead. Wasatch Crest Shuttle has created more access and convenience to riders by offering our mountain bike shuttle on a regular schedule from July through September. With the mountain bike shuttle, now there is no need to find another rider, your wife, or friend to drive you to the top! And possibly best of all, no 90 minute car retrieval! That’s more time on the weekend or holiday to spend with family and friends, not needlessly driving two cars up and down the canyon.
Providing the mountain bike shuttle fills the gap between ski buses offered by UTA during the winter ski season and gives summer recreationists a car pooling option to enjoy the Wasatch Canyons. Currently Envision Utah is conducting a public survey to assist in revising the 1989 Salt Lake County Wasatch Canyons Master Plan for City Creek, Emigration, Red Butte, Parley’s, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Part of this process has included surveys and public open houses to “…engage the public in setting priorities and identify long-term strategies that enhance the value of the canyons for current residents and future generations.” Preliminary survey results show that most people are concerned about extending public transportation to include year round service in addition to controlled development. According to Tyler Garcia of UTA’s planning department, new routes are determined by demographic/market data, accessibility, and population density of a certain area. New routes are not developed by demand, or petitioning, from the public. Garcia also says that summer canyon activities are considered on-demand transportation. It has been UTA’s experience that summer activities are more impulsive compared to skiing that takes planning with ridership data easily collected. Basically, there isn’t enough information for UTA to research the possibility of extending their canyon services into the summer months. And simply because people want the service doesn’t mean that they will ride the bus. Garcia said less than 30% of people that petition for new routes actually ride them. So, people want year round public transportation, but less than half would actually ride it and still use the canyon. If UTA planned routes based on return on investment, the ski bus and summer buses wouldn’t even run. After fares are collected from the ski resorts for employees and season passes, the fares collected account for less than 20% of operational costs for UTA from December through April. Without the resorts offering usable data like pass sales and routes being cancelled due to current economic conditions, it seems that UTA will be hard pressed to extend services beyond what is already offered. That’s where Wasatch Crest Shuttle fits in.
Wasatch Crest Shuttle’s mountain bike shuttle reduces the demand for parking. Four years ago, Wasatch Crest Shuttle conducted a study to count the number of cars at any one time parked at the old Wasatch Crest Trail trailhead along SR 190. As many as 50 cars have been counted at one time along the shoulder at the hairpin turn. In this area there might be 36 inches of paved shoulder with about 12 inches of soft shoulder before the hillside. Most cars are parked precipitously close to the downhill side causing unneeded erosion. That’s only one trailhead! If you drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon on any weekend during the summer you’ll find that the Mill D, Guardsman Pass, and resort parking areas (if open to the public) are full.
Come out this weekend and experience Wasatch Crest Shuttle’s mountain bike shuttle. Shuttle purchases and reservations can be made online at www.mountainbikeshuttle.com. There are three types of reservations that you can make: scheduled, unscheduled public, and unscheduled private. As the names imply, the unscheduled public and private shuttles are not at the regular times. The difference between them is that the public shuttle will be posted in the online calendar and a mobile alert will be sent out. Private shuttles are just that, private without being posted online or mobile alerts sent out. Wasatch Crest Shuttle can also be found on Facebook, Twitter/mtbshuttle, www.wcshuttle.blogspot.com, email@example.com, or call (801)466-3122. Discover a whole new Wasatch Mountain experience with Wasatch Crest Shuttle this weekend!
President, CEO, Driver
Wasatch Crest Shuttle, Inc.