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Last updated: 6:00AM 12/10/2019

Alta Blog

AEC Blog: Season Carpool Conclusions

AEC Blog: Season Carpool Conclusions

| 16 Comments | April 22nd, 2019 | By Adam Fehr

Preferred Carpool Parking Program, Year One

New this season, the Alta Environmental Center spearheaded the Preferred Carpool Parking program, providing prime parking spots in the Wildcat base area to vehicles arriving with three or more persons. The goal of the program is to encourage carpooling by rewarding skiers with "VIP Parking" in the most desirable parking spots at the Wildcat base.

"The goal of the program, over the long term, is to change the behavior of Alta skiers,"—Maura Olivos Director of the Alta Environmental Center   

Increasing carpooling in Little Cottonwood Canyon is one of the few tools Alta Ski Area has to combat congestion and excess vehicle emissions into the environment in the short term. 

The Preferred Carpool Parking Program began on opening weekend and has run all day, every day throughout the season. Raw data was collected when possible, and adjustments to the number of parking spots were fluid from week-to-week.

So how did we skiers do? Let's take a quick look at the data we have available.

Overall Season Carpool Usage = 21.9%

For the season, 22% of all cars that parked in the Wildcat lot had 3+ occupants. skiers participated in the carpool program. This is a great start that we hope to build off of next winter.

Peak Daily Carpool % = 43.4% occupancy

Carpool participation rates saw two significant spikes on days when data was collected. Tuesday, January 22nd saw a carpool percentage at 43.4% of all vehicles. Saturday, March 16th clocked in at 38.7%.

Peak Daily Carpool Count

Speaking of March 16th, this Saturday saw the highest number of carpool participants. A record 279 vehicles arrived with three-or-more skiers. This peak number of vehicles, combined with the second-highest rate of participation, showed the potential for the program. Friday--Sunday, March 16--18, saw a season-high number of vehicles at Alta, two of those days saw carpool rates considerably higher than the season average.

Trending in the Wrong Direction?

Preferred Carpool Parking rates appear to be trending in the wrong direction as the season winds down. This could be a reflection of overall skier rates, or perhaps a reflection of skier habits as longer days lend to multi-activity days in the spring. Regardless, more could be done to influence skier behavior in the spring and during peak weeks mid-season.

What Do You Think of the Preferred Carpool Parking Program?

This is a new program and we are learning as we go. How are we doing? What changes should be made to the carpool program? We welcome (on-topic) constructive criticism in the comments section. Next year we are hopeful to team up with Snowbird and adopt their R.I.D.E. app that was launched this year. 

Thank you,

Alta Ski Area and the Alta Environmental Center

Posted in: #AltaNews #Environment

Ken Jacquin April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

I think it is great that you started this, but I would encourage you to be more draconian. Charge people $40 for parking if they have less than four people in the car. It is a simple solution and people will determine how important it is to drive solo.

Kelly Johnson April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

The carpool parking was excellent. We gave friends rides on multiple days to have the preferred parking. Please continue the program!

Chris Van Arsdell April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

The heart of the idea here is to minimize the number of cars coming up the canyon by carpooling, this is a wonderful idea and a step in the right direction. However I agree with the previous comment that we need to get more draconian. The bottom line is Americans in particular powder-hungry skiers often forgo common sense and selflessness for the immediate need or desire to be first in line. I feel in order to make a significant difference and solve our problem of absolute overcrowding in our canyon, we must, I repeat we must, be aggressive in putting a limitation on the number of cars we allow up the canyon. I believe that in order to make our efforts successful we must provide parking structures in the valley (9400 south/Highland expansion, suggest multi-level parking garage across street in old Shopko space) also must institute a much better public transit infrastructure, our current bus schedules and reliability of UTA ski bus is failing. My personal solution for my 23 years of living in SLC and skiing LCC has been to stick out my thumb, it's a wonderful way to make a difference and meet amazing people. Thank you to Alta for trying to do the right thing and heading down a progressive path for a healthier and happier experience up Little Cottonwood Canyon. I urge us all as a community to come together with our ideas and our financial funding to solve the logistical nightmare that we have created ourselves by our overenthusiasm to ski at Alta and Snowbird.

Bob Paxton April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

I think your carpool program is commendable - you are rewarding a new and respectable behavior. Our family does carpool, however people lead busy lives and sometimes we can't fill the car with family or friends. We try but ultimately we each decide if it's worth our time to ski Alta as a single. The answer is generally yes. I like a reward system, even an Alta certificate versus a penalty, tax, fine or toll. I pay as much state and road taxes as the next guy and we should all be welcomed at Alta, however we arrive. Let's be positive.

Dennis Reum April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

The 3 person VIP parking is an excellent endeavor. Reward 4 or more person carpooling with a way to mitigate the lift lines. Maybe a lane similar to the ski school lane that allows for quicker lift access. Every skier loves a shorter lift line. It doesn’t cost Alta anything and is a great perceived benefit to the clients.

Amy Rowland April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

Another vote for charging parking fees for cars with less than three adults, as long as the funds collected support better bus service, free bus rides or shuttle service. I think the carpool parking is a great start, but we'd love help finding the people to share rides with on a reasonably-short notice basis.

Bill Schwartz April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

I support the
I also think there could be designated carpool/hitch hiking pick up locations at the entrance of LCC. Preferable on the right shoulder as you enter the canyon. Post two signs. One for snowbird and the other for Alta where people needing a ride can stand at and be easy for drivers to pick up.

Amy Johnson April 23, 2019 Reply to Post

So glad you have this carpool program! I wonder if there's a pickup spot at the base of the canyon for drivers willing to pick up 1-2 passengers to fill their car and for passengers willing to jump in the car. If and how could this work safely? It seems to me the problem starts at the bottom of the canyon. Amy

vicki turner April 24, 2019 Reply to Post

Looking forward to the app next year. Would like to know how the app impacted Snowbird. Carpooling is great, but does not have enough impact at present. I frequently took note of the VIP rows vs. the rest of the lot. I did not notice the same policy being applied in the Albion lot. Will that be implemented next year? The solution is to put pressure on UTA to provide more bus service. It was interesting to see the # of buses on the road during high traffic days; there were too few to have much of an impact. Ultimately, carpooling and some sort of shuttle/transit system is the only solution. Meanwhile, buses are the only solution. The resorts should be supporting safer travel in the canyon especially with what happened this year due to the impacts of passes such as Ikon. Better coordination between UPD, UTA, and UDOT are necessary. Safer and properly equipped vehicles should only be allowed in the "VIP" parking if that is not happening already. I took the bus quite frequently in the dead of winter. What I observed was appalling. There doesn't seem to be adequate coordination. Restrictions are not being put in place in a timely manner for vehicles, either. Next year I will try out the app, but will still rely on the bus for many days. I'm retired, backcountry ski and ski Alta. I'm in the canyon a lot.

Walter Roy April 24, 2019 Reply to Post

Carpooling is the answer. Make it a requirement that on weekends, holidays and powder days that all cars going up the canyon have 3 or more occupants. On snow days add the requirement that the vehicle must be pre-approved as having proper equipment. An electronic “toll booth” could monitor compliance to both. We’ll need additional parking somewhere away from the mouth of the canyon. Drivers can either pick up additional riders, catch a ride themselves or board a bus. Apps will also help get people together. We’ll figure it out!

Wally April 24, 2019 Reply to Post

Consider enhanced shuttle program to move between Alta, snowbird and condos/houses already up there. No need for cars parked in driveways and lots to migrate to the Alta parking lot during ski hours.

todd April 24, 2019 Reply to Post

How many of the cars that showed up with 3+ people were carpooling and how many were families that happened to have 3+ people and won the parking lottery? Your stats are worthless unless you know that your parking penalty is influencing people.

When I drive up I see very few cars in the carpooling spaces and lots in the crappy spaces. Your most loyal customers are the ones that show up early and they are being sent to the back of the lot; you are penalizing your best customers. Your loyal customers don't want to carpool.

It looks like carpooling participation went down with time. I think that means that people tried it and aren't interested in it.

How is the Ride app different from hitch hiking? They both involve picking up strangers. Isn't hitch hiking dangerous and illegal?

If lots of people pick up strangers in the morning how are those strangers going to get down at the end of the day? I can't imagine strangers waiting around to drive them back down. Are there going to be lots of extra buses at the end of the day?

Randall W April 24, 2019 Reply to Post

Carpool lots are great, so thanks. Besides expanding the carpool lot (my family often isn't early enough to get a spot), please consider adding another lot at Albion where not only carpoolers are rewarded but also saving young families (like mine) or groups with newer skiers from having to contend with the transfer tow as a consequence of using carpool. I recommend dedicating enough spots to at least attempt to minimize instances where 1-2 skier vehicles get the closest spots while groups or families must schlep their gear from the upper lot or navigate down from the road. Doing so relieves congestion in the lots but also likely the restaurants because big groups can get back to their cars more easily, and it also provides the most convenience to the highest number of bodies. A few more 10min loading spots would also be warmly welcomed since the current ones are well used and are often taken (can you sense my fear of needing to be a 3-4 person pack mule?).

Last, dovetailing into this carpooling issue is that an expedited, dedicated bus to Alta running every 10-15 min would be a real alternative to driving; this in turn could help free up a few more spots for the carpool lots. I would seriously take my 10 year old on the bus again, when we go together, if it is not so doggone inefficient and long due to the bus 1) stopping at every Snowbird entry point, 2) just as frequently serving as an intra-Snowbird shuttle as a canyon congestion reliever, and 3) trying to get back into the traffic that is itself slowed or stopped by Snowbird workers to let the bus back in. (High stress, long time commitment, low payoff.) If Alta bus funding is a problem perhaps this might be raised through a "transit congestion fee" added to day passes. Such a fee would be paid at ticket windows or online, not at lot entrances (which would worsen parking congestion).

Hope this is useful somehow. Thanks for your efforts to reduce congestion and willingness to solicit feedback. It is appreciated.

Barbara Snyder April 28, 2019 Reply to Post

Preferred parking for 3 riders in car is a great idea. Even better is with the bus. I love to take the bus up and back, as I had a Senior Season Pass. It would be great for others to go up with me who purchase a day pass in the valley if they could ride for a lower amount on the ski buses by showing the pre-purchased pass for the day/week/month/season. I would like to be able to ride the bus for free to go up to get my season pass (paid for in advance); how about I can ride bus free by showing my receipt for my season pass, which will include the bus rides.

Alex S May 1, 2019 Reply to Post

LOL! Whatever. I just bought an Ikon Pass so I wouldn't feel so CHEATED for buying a Season Pass at Alta. I lived and worked at the GMD in 05-06 for a 696" year and 08-09 for 637" year. Don't tell me record snow was at fault for the LCC overcrowding this season. I'm done with Alta till you pull your Collective Ikon sized head out of your posterior and undo the damage you have done to the skiing experience at Alta. Tell your neighbors they are part of the problem. TOO MUCH TRAFFIC IN THE LCC. Simple economics of supply and demand. You have oversold a limited resource. Increase price and quit giving away the farm to the Mega Pass corporate sponsors.

Michael Chieco May 22, 2019 Reply to Post

Die hard Alta skiers shouldnt be penalized when they are first in the lot and travel solo. They should be given fist right for parking.


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