Transportation is big business during festivals
With winter barreling down upon Park City and film festivals bringing upwards of 50,000 people to the town, transportation systems will be under intense pressure.
"Last year, 48,000 people came for Sundance," said Pattie Middleton of Mountain Jitney Transportation. "Parkites look at it as a daunting event."
Shuttle services during this time especially, will help Park City maintain its pristine ski resort lifestyle.
"As far as traffic, using a service like ours, it takes cars off the roads," said Erik Siefka of Mountain Jitney.
Park City buses and shuttle services may limit some of the aggravation and the carbon dioxide, but if there’s a need for another transportation service, a 4-wheel drive is a safe bet for visitors and Parkites alike.
Mountain Jitney is one of them. But before people enlist its services, Mountain Jitney informs them of the busses and shuttles.
"A lot of people will call up and say ‘I want to rent a car,’ and we tell them there are beautiful bus services that Park City provides," said Middleton. "It’s just wonderful. If they don’t want to use (shuttles or busses) once they get up here, then we help them and it’s less expensive than renting a car."
"We promote not to rent a car," added Siefka. But he says, "We can bring them here comfortably and safely and it’s easy for them."
Mountain Jitney is not a taxi service, however. They take pride in one-on-one customer service. Riders will never share a seat with a stranger.
"Shuttle services are a shared ride service," Siefka said. "They could be in a vehicle with eight stops and to get here from Salt Lake could be a two-hour trip."
The one-on-one experience will help customers have a more enjoyable trip in Park City.
Middleton and Siefka have been in the Park City transportation business for almost a decade. They joined with Carl and Pamela Dollhausen to form Mountain Jitney Transportation last May. The Dollhausens come from a background of owning restaurants and those talents are a natural fit with the transportation industry.
"We have local reconnaissance and we recommend what we like to eat. We know the area extremely well and we know the dining. We worked here and we know the activities. We know where to go for a massage or to buy purple flowers," said Pamela.
"We are good ambassadors of Park City," added Carl. "We provide the small, nice touch."
Beyond recommendations for fine dining, Mountain Jitney is able to expand its personalized service.
"We’ll even stop for groceries. We are a lot more personal and the people appreciate it," said Middleton.
Middleton said they will recommend doctors and dentists. In the past, they have driven people to the emergency room for broken legs.
"There’s so many scenarios and life-threatening situations. Once we had a child’s heart stop," Middleton said.
On days like those, it’s a benefit to have a four-wheel drive Suburban.
"There are days where it is extremely snowy," Siefka said. "I have families who are pleased to be in a Suburban instead of a two-wheel drive van."
Many of the clientele are second-home owners who own establishments located in difficult terrain.
"We have a large base of clients that cannot get out of their driveway without a four-wheel drive," Siefka said.
Middleton recently took a family to Evanston during a storm.
"Those cars are so safe, we kept moving forward," Middleton said. "It’s good for our confidence and for our customers’ confidence."
In addition to safety and personalized service during Sundance, Mountain Jitney will also save time for movie goers.
"As far as traffic," Middleton said, "We know the shortcuts for customers using our service."
Mountain Jitney consists of a fleet of seven Suburbans. All of the vehicles have On Star for added safety. Each driver keeps updated on weather, airline and road reports through laptops and blackberries. For Sundance, it is increasing its fleet to 13 vehicles.
"We have constant communication and planning," Middleton said.
During the movie festivals, Mountain Jitney will be transporting Reuter’s News Agency Associated Press writers, Microsoft executives and other filmmakers and corporate representatives.
"Riding around with camera crews is intoxicating," Middleton said.
For more information on transportation rates with Mountain Jitney Transportation, call (435) 640-5677 or log on to http://www.mountainjitney.com.
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Hotel occupancy in the Park City area during Sundance is projected to drop dramatically from a typical year as organizers shift the event online.