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What About Increasing Frequency of Buses?

It seems that people I have heard from think that vans providing on-demand pickup to deliver residents to bus stop has zero-to-little chance of succeeding in getting people on buses.

So, here is another potential plan by the city and county: Increased frequency. Instead of waiting 30 minutes for a bus they will come every 7 to 15 minutes (on certain routes). I believe this has an estimated cost to the county of about $1.5 million. I’m not sure if Park City Municipal would have costs in addition to that (i.e. paying their share) but I would guess so.

What do you think? Would that get you on a bus more often?

Summit County Drug Court Serves and Saves

The Summit County Drug Court was established in 2011 to allow non-violent felony drug offenders who meet certain criteria an opportunity to avoid lengthy incarceration by voluntarily participating in a program that provides structured regular drug testing and monitoring of the offender for compliance with firm conditions.

Recently BYU students did a review of program in an attempt to answer two questions:

  • Does the existence of the drug court reduce the number of inmates in the County Jail Facility thus helping the facility remain viable long term by delaying the need to expand or build a new facility
  • Is the drug court effective in reducing the number of drug offenders who are repeat offenders

So, how does a typical drug court work? Generally certain felony drug offenders are offered the ability to plead guilty to drug charges in exchange for being put into the program. As part of the program, offenders are usually tested three times per week for drugs and/or alcohol. The cost of testing is paid by the offender. Additional measures are included such as performing community service, attending regular meetings, and writing a report.

The program lasts a minimum of 24 months. If the offender successfully graduates, then they may have their criminal charges reduced.

So far, 7 of 18 participants have graduated. There are currently 11 participants in the drug court. The annual cost of the drug court is $20,000 (does not include wages of officials presiding over court). If these 11 participants were jail, at an estimated cost of $30,000 per inmate per year, it would cost the county $330,000 annually. Therefore, it appears it is a financially successful program.

Nationwide, there are many proponents of drug courts. They cite statistics such as 75% of drug court graduates remain arrest-free after 2 years and reduce crime by as much as 45% over other sentencing options. However, there are also those that cite that drug courts cause individuals to lose rights and discriminate against those who cannot afford to pay for drug tests.

It will be interesting to watch if Summit County invests more heavily and expands the program. So far, with its limited reach and limited budget it seems to be providing benefits to our community.

To read more about Summit County’s Drug Court, click here.

 

An Interesting Idea from Summit County on Transportation

Last week I had the chance to sit down with Summit County’s person in charge of transportation, Caroline Ferris. One of the issues we discussed was buses. I mentioned that one of the impediments I see with regard to adoption is that often people either need to walk a long way or would need to drive, park, wait, and then catch the bus.

Ms. Ferris offered a solution to that problem. She said that the city and county were looking into a shuttle service that could be scheduled to pick you up from your home and drop you off at a bus stop in time to catch the bus. Here is how it would likely work… Let’s say you want to take the 7:30 AM bus from Pinebrook to Prospector. You’d use an app and tell the bus service that you wanted to be on that 7:30 bus. They’d then schedule a van to come pick you (and others) up and transport you to the bus stop by 7:30. Of course, you may need to get picked up at 7:10, so that the van could service other people as well.

I said to Ms. Ferris that this process must be complex from a scheduling standpoint. She said that it wasn’t actually that hard. She said that the Park City Transit software currently had much of that capability built into the program and they were looking to find an area to pilot this type of program.

I personally think it would solve one of two big impediments to bus ridership, the last mile to people’s homes. The other of course, is ensuring that bus trips don’t take too much longer than a car. If it takes an hour to get from Pinebrook to Prospector, you can’t assume many people will take that option. However, if you can get to Prospector in 30 minutes or to Canyons (from Pinebrook) in 20 minutes, people would likely do it.

In speaking with a few other citizens about this, they bring up some of the negatives, of course. Having vans circulating through neighborhoods isn’t exactly “green” and there is a cost to ensuring that everyone who wants to schedule a pickup CAN schedule a pickup. Yet, it’s an interesting idea.

If the city and county could really pull this off, I think it would be a great test of whether locals want to take buses at all. The ride would be free. You’d be picked up at your door. About your only excuse left for not riding buses… is that you don’t want to ride a bus.

I like this sort of innovative thinking, though. In the long run, the only way we’ll really know if it will work is to try it. So, I hope Park City Transit pilots this soon. I hope they pilot it in an area like Park Meadows, which seems to get a lot of bus usage (the trips are shorter). If it works there, I’d like to see an expanded pilot into the “burbs.”

Regardless of whether this plan is ultimately successful, it shows that our transit officials are thinking outside the box. That is definitely a good thing.

 

Tour Treasure Mountain Junior High

The school district is ramping up efforts to convince you that TMJH needs to meet the solid end of a wrecking ball. I don’t think most people probably need convinced of that. Hopefully, though, the district will use these same sorts of efforts when more controversial items are brought up (i.e. the new 5/6 school).

The tour will be held Monday May 9th at Treasure Mountain Junior. The tour will leave promptly at 8:45AM from the school’s lobby. It will be led by Facilities Director Todd Hansen and Principal Emily Sutherland.

If you want to tour crowded hallways, drink brown water from pipes, breathe in dust with lead from contaminated vents, and possibly bring home a bit of the curse that is evidently plaguing the school (like when Bobby Brady brings found that tiki idol in Hawaii), then this just might the tour for you. If you are more of the faint-of-heart type, I might suggest the Park City Ghost Tour. It may be a little less scary.

 

 

Feeding the Beast … Is Traffic Really a Problem?

We’ve all sat in traffic on a random Friday at about 4:30. I know that traffic in town during the week after Christmas is horrible. We’ve all read about CARMAGEDDON (some even experienced it). Almost all of us have experienced BLINKING LIGHT SYNDROME when stoplights in Kimball Junction start blinking red.

Yet, is it really a problem? More importantly, if it really is a problem, is it a problem we can solve?

The reason I ask is that the city and county are poised to spend multiples of millions of dollars on trying to solve the “problem.” During the last few years, it seems there have been countless stories in the Park Record and on KPCW about how bad traffic is. However, as time goes on, I wonder if we are all just being ginned up, for lack of anything better to talk about.

Ask any of your friends or family visiting from Washington DC, Florida, or Los Angeles if the traffic is bad here and I’d bet they’d say “what traffic?”. A couple of years ago my sister was from Chicago during the week before New Years. I asked her if the traffic would stop here from coming back…she said…you guessed it, “what traffic?

I realize that traffic is probably worse here than during the 80’s when Park City was really a one horse town, but do we have a problem? You may say “who cares. What harm can it do to make traffic better?” The problem is that “traffic” often becomes an incubator for other projects and solutions. It leads to a myriad of solutions, poised to save us from what may become a REAL PROBLEM, but isn’t now.

I’ll be the first to admit that traffic could become a real issue if economic growth continues around Park City. Yet, in Park City does it regularly take 3 hours to get home from skiing on a Sunday? No. That’s what folks in Denver face. Does it take an hour to go 2 miles? Maybe once a year… maybe.

So, do we have a traffic problem? If your definition of problem is having to wait at all… then yes. However, in the scheme of things, the wait just isn’t that long. And the question we need to ask as citizens is whether it is really a problem worth pouring millions into.

Every time we complain or tell others that “traffic was horrible,” when it was only a minor inconvenience, we are feeding the beast. We are telling our elected representatives that they must solve our traffic problem. They will add more bus routes. They will increase the frequency of buses. They will find ways to make it too expensive or cumbersome to drive. This is all in the name of “solving” traffic… because the people told them it was a problem, They are doing what they are supposed to do — listen to the people.

So, I ask the following questions of fellow citizens, “Do we have enough of a traffic problem, to throw millions of dollars at it?” If you say yes, “What then is the likelihood that our local governments can actually solve it?”

If you answer yes to the first question and give them better than 50% odds on the second question, then I suppose constantly complaining about traffic makes sense. However, if you don’t think it’s worth it or you don’t think they can solve it, all complaining is going to do is likely waste time, money, and resources that could spent more effectively elsewhere.

We live in a great place with many great elected officials that actually often listen to their constituents. That’s rare. We just need to ensure that they are hearing the right things. If not, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

New Stories Shortly

Hi Everyone.

Sorry there haven’t been many new articles recently. I have been a bit wrapped up in the Park City Follies.

However, we should be back soon with new articles about:

  • Buses
  • E-bikes
  • Boyer Tech Park
  • Skullcandy
  • The land next to Jeremy Ranch Elementary
  • Water
  • Dogs
  • School Board
  • Drugs
  • …and more

So, thanks for the patience! See you soon.

Summit County Day Celbration Was Nice

Last Saturday, the county held a celebration for Summit County Day. The county cordoned off a small section of the Tanner Outlet mall parking lot next to the playground. They gave away free hot dogs, had face painters, and balloons. Perhaps one of the best part of the event was the sheer number and diversity of Summit County employees who attended. There were sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, transportation planners, emergency planning people, people talking about forest fires… and I’m probably leaving out many others.

Also, Summit County Council members showed up too. I personally had the great opportunity to visit with Tal Adair, Kim Carson, Roger Armstrong, and Claudia McMullin about what’s going on in the county. Ms McMullin was even showing off her bright pink (I mean salmon colored) E-Bike that was on loan from Pedego. She was letting anyone and everyone try it out. I don’t think I’ve seen adults having so much fun in a long time.

Perhaps my wife summed it up best when she said, “I don’t know who was responsible for that [Summit County Day party) but they should be commended. I don’t always agree with everything that happens here, but seeing all those different people who are working to help us every day behind the scenes makes me feel really good about our community.”

Yep, it was a job well done.

Saturday is Summit County Day

This Saturday (4/16) at the Tanger Outlets from 11AM to 2PM, Summit County will behaving a party of sorts. The county will have a fire truck and safety trailer for kids, face painting, balloons, hotdogs, and a scavenger hunt (with prizes) to celebrate Summit County Day.

Especially if you have kids, it looks to be a good way to spend an hour on Saturday. Here’s a tip… for the scavenger hunt, you need to take 10 pictures from a list of specific places across the county on your mobile phone. You’ll then need to show them the pics from your phone. Here is the scavenger hunt form.

summitcountydays

 

Park City Bus Ridership Statistics

As long time readers know, I have been skeptical of Park City bus service providing a larger part of the solution to our traffic problems, than it does today. In its current form, I see how visitors may use the service but have a difficult time envisioning locals utilizing it more.

I had heard through the grapevine that my conjecture was off base; that the bus service was exceeding expectations. I was told that it was doing so well that additional bus service was being considered.

I’ll be the first to admit that actual statistics usually trump gut feelings. So, a few weeks ago I reached out to Summit County for statistics on the number of riders using bus service. I wanted to see if actual data backed up my anecdotal theories. I’ll save any commentary until I have a chance to sit down with Summit County Regional Transportation Planning Director Caroline Ferris and discuss the trends they are seeing.

However, I did want to present the data. Below is a graph of bus ridership from 2015 to present (2015 is in bright yellow and you can click the graph for larger version)). If you are interested, you can also the detailed data that shows ridership by general route.

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask Summit County (given this data), please email me at

Park-City-Bus-Ridership-2.

Want your kid to attend an Ivy League school? Have them write their admissions essay on Costco.

While most college application deadlines have come and gone, it’s never to soon to start thinking about next year. With that in mind, I saw this story about Britney Stinson, a high school senior who wrote her college admission essay about a trip to Costco with her mom. This essay, along with everything else she has done, enabled her to get accepted into five Ivy League schools and Stanford. Not bad.

When reading about her background, it reminded me of many Park City students. Quartz reports, “Stinson’s SAT scores were in the high 90-something percentile (she wouldn’t say exactly her score) and she’s on track to graduate as her class’s valedictorian. Meanwhile, she participated in highly competitive STEM programs, loaded up on AP classes, was a competitive cross-country runner, and an active participant in her local community.” That’s not a lot different than many of our students. Yet, what seems to put her over the top is her ability to capture an experience that most of us have had, weave that into a story about what it means to be human, and ends with a metaphor that links her life experience to Costco visits. Wait, did her essay end with a metaphor? I don’t really know, but I think so… Maybe?

That’s probably why I went to a state school.

Here is her essay:

Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Managing to break free from my mother’s grasp, I charged. With arms flailing and chubby legs fluttering beneath me, I was the ferocious two­ year old rampaging through Costco on a Saturday morning. My mother’s eyes widened in horror as I jettisoned my churro; the cinnamon-­sugar rocket gracefully sliced its way through the air while I continued my spree. I sprinted through the aisles, looking up in awe at the massive bulk products that towered over me. Overcome with wonder, I wanted to touch and taste, to stick my head into industrial­ sized freezers, to explore every crevice. I was a conquistador, but rather than searching the land for El Dorado, I scoured aisles for free samples. Before inevitably being whisked away into a shopping cart, I scaled a mountain of plush toys and surveyed the expanse that lay before me: the kingdom of Costco.
Notorious for its oversized portions and dollar-­fifty hot dog combo, Costco is the apex of consumerism. From the days spent being toted around in a shopping cart to when I was finally tall enough to reach lofty sample trays, Costco has endured a steady presence throughout my life. As a veteran Costco shopper, I navigate the aisles of foodstuffs, thrusting the majority of my weight upon a generously filled shopping cart whose enormity juxtaposes my small frame. Over time, I’ve developed a habit of observing fellow patrons tote their carts piled with frozen burritos, cheese puffs, tubs of ice cream, and weight­-loss supplements. Perusing the aisles gave me time to ponder. Who needs three pounds of sour cream? Was cultured yogurt any more well­mannered than its uncultured counterpart? Costco gave birth to my unfettered curiosity.
While enjoying an obligatory hot dog, I did not find myself thinking about the “all beef” goodness that Costco boasted. I instead considered finitudes and infinitudes, unimagined uses for tubs of sour cream, the projectile motion of said tub when launched from an eighty foot shelf or maybe when pushed from a speedy cart by a scrawny seventeen year old. I contemplated the philosophical: If there exists a thirty-­three ounce jar of Nutella, do we really have free will? I experienced a harsh physics lesson while observing a shopper who had no evident familiarity of inertia’s workings. With a cart filled to overflowing, she made her way towards the sloped exit, continuing to push and push while steadily losing control until the cart escaped her and went crashing into a concrete column, 52-inch plasma screen TV and all. Purchasing the yuletide hickory smoked ham inevitably led to a conversation between my father and me about Andrew Jackson’s controversiality. There was no questioning Old Hickory’s dedication; he was steadfast in his beliefs and pursuits—qualities I am compelled to admire, yet his morals were crooked. We both found the ham to be more likable–and tender.
I adopted my exploratory skills, fine-tuned by Costco, towards my intellectual endeavors. Just as I sampled buffalo­-chicken dip or chocolate truffles, I probed the realms of history, dance and biology, all in pursuit of the ideal cart–one overflowing with theoretical situations and notions both silly and serious. I sampled calculus, cross­-country running, scientific research, all of which are now household favorites. With cart in hand, I do what scares me; I absorb the warehouse that is the world. Whether it be through attempting aerial yoga, learning how to chart blackbody radiation using astronomical software, or dancing in front of hundreds of people, I am compelled to try any activity that interests me in the slightest.
My intense desire to know, to explore beyond the bounds of rational thought; this is what defines me. Costco fuels my insatiability and cultivates curiosity within me at a cellular level. Encoded to immerse myself in the unknown, I find it difficult to complacently accept the “what”; I want to hunt for the “whys” and dissect the “hows”. In essence, I subsist on discovery.