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SLOC may trim fee for buses to venues

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The Salt Lake Organizing Committee is having second thoughts about charging $30 for a round-trip bus ticket between Salt Lake City and five mountain venues during the 2002 Winter Games.

SLOC announced the cost to ride its Mountain Venue Express shuttle buses in a July 12 e-mail to Olympic ticket holders.

But Fraser Bullock, SLOC chief operating officer, said the price is being reconsidered and SLOC is thinking of lowering it to $20. That decision should be made by the end of this week, he said.

"We are considering dropping it to $20 just in the interest of trying to keep more traffic off our roadways" during the Games, he said.

Bullock said SLOC will use federal transportation money and some additional funds to pay for the mountain shuttle system but plans to recover those costs through passenger fees.

"This is not intended in any way as a money maker. It is simply a system to satisfy the demand of certain constituency groups but also to lessen the road load, particularly on I-80."

Also, SLOC previously decided it would not charge ticket holders to drive to a designated park-and-ride lot near a venue and either walk or take a shuttle bus a short distance to the event.

However, Bullock said, SLOC is now thinking of charging a parking fee to single motorists who do not car pool with at least one other person. That decision will be made soon.

In the original communication about the Mountain Venue Express, SLOC said it would charge $30 for round trips from the Salt Lake City and County Building to the Snowbasin Ski Area, the Utah Olympic Park, Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort or Soldier Hollow.

A trip between Weber State University's football stadium and Snowbasin Ski Area would cost $20, as would a round-trip trek from Utah Valley State College to Soldier Hollow.

Bullock said the cost of the Ogden and Provo shuttles would remain at $20, even if the $30 cost of the Salt Lake City trips is reduced.

He said the long-haul shuttles are intended primarily for out-of-town visitors who have no other means of transportation to the mountain venues. But local residents who want to avoid long journeys behind the wheel are encouraged to take the shuttles.

"We want to make the price attractive enough that people who have cars would then drop their car downtown and take this," Bullock said.

Bullock said SLOC's goal is to take 5 percent of the anticipated automobile traffic off the road with the mountain buses.

Anyone wishing to take a Mountain Venue Express bus will need a reservation. A phone number to call will be announced soon, Bullock said.

The buses will leave at pre-determined times, as many as two or three hours prior to the start of mountain events to ensure timely arrival.

The Utah Transit Authority will operate express buses between Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo that will link up with the Mountain Venue Express. UTA will charge $2 for a one-way trip.

E-MAIL: zman@desnews.com