Grand Targhee Resort launched a new pilot program for a public shuttle in hopes of reducing the impact skiers have on the environment. The resort set shuttle prices to be competitive with driving the 24 miles round trip to help increase its use.
The new shuttle started up in mid-December. "People are responding really well to the shuttle and are riding it," Christina Thomure, director of sustainable operations, told us. "It 's being received positively as an amenity in the community."
The resort has experimented in the past with an employee shuttle, but wanted to see if it would work better as a public shuttle. "This is the first time we opened it up to the public," Thomure said. "We want to offer this, but really need the support of people to ride it to make it work."
The shuttle runs 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays between Driggs and Grand Targhee. It stops at the resort's employee housing, Driggs Community Center, and the Teepee parking lot in Alta.
A round trip fare costs $3, although riders pay it only on the uphill ride. Children five years old and younger ride for free.
Frequent shuttle users can purchase a discount pass that knocks 50 cents off each trip. A 10-ride punch pass, which costs $25, is available in the resort's activity center or at Habitat in Driggs.
Grand Targhee set the rates for the shuttle low enough to provide a competitive incentive for riders. Thomure estimated that "a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon spends approximately $3.60 round trip, assuming $3 per gallon for gas. Skiers and riders will save $1.10 per trip if they purchase a punch pass, and that savings excludes the additional maintenance costs of a personal vehicle.
"This year's operation will be a pilot to see if people will get out of their cars and onto the bus," said Thomure. "We hope that by opening up the shuttle to guests and charging a fee that is less than the cost of driving individually, we'll be able to achieve the rider numbers needed to make the shuttle economically feasible for future seasons."
Long-term hopes for the program include future partnerships with regional transit providers to take over the service and expanded routes for the entire community. Possible futures expansions might include service between Victor, Driggs, and Tetonia that connects with Jackson, Wyo., and Rexburg and Idaho Falls, Idaho.