Sometimes when I’m following news events around Park City, it reminds me of the book 1984. A key theme is that “We have always been at war with Eastasia” until they are no longer at war with Eastasia and then the statement becomes, “We have always been at war with Eurasia.” No one stops to ask the question, “Huh? How did that change happen?” I suppose that’s one of Orwell’s points.
I feel that way with the Transit Center that’s about to be built behind the library in Kimball Junction. The Transit Center will in effect be a really nice bus stop that is supposed to improve the efficiency of the entire Park City bus system by providing a location where riders can switch buses to get to their destinations more easily.
So, please let me take you through the last year, that relates to the Kimball Junction Transit Center, through a few Park Record quotes:
Summit County Council green lights transit center at Kimball Junction (2/13/2015)
“Park City Transit was recently awarded a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration for the construction of the $2.4 million project. The County Council contributed $500,000 and Park City Transit provided $95,000.”
Kimball Junction transit center project rolling along (July 7, 2015)
“The Federal Transit Administration awarded Park City Transit a $1.7 million grant last year for the estimated $2.4 million project. Summit County contributed $500,000 and Park City Transit provided $95,000, leaving an approximate $105,000 deficit.”
Kimball Junction Transit Center project gains ground (January 8, 2016)
“The Federal Transit Administration awarded Park City Transit a $1.7 million grant last year for the project, which is estimated to cost slightly more than $3 million. Summit County has contributed $900,000 and Park City Transit provided $95,000. Park City Municipal is administering the request for qualifications because it is the Federal Transit authority grantee, Radke said, before adding that it is “still a county project.”
It’s funny what happens over the course of eleven months. We start with February 2015 where the center will cost $2.4 million, Summit County will contribute $500K, Park City pitches in $95K, and
Orrin Hatch the federal government provides a grant of $1.7MM.
Then in July 2015, the Park Record points out there is actually a deficit of $105K in the plan… that someone will need to find in order to build this transit center. Fair enough. That deficit was probably always there but just wasn’t pointed out.
Fast forward to this weekend, when the Park Record tells us that Summit County is now chipping in $900K instead of $500K, which is an 80% increase. We also learn that the entire project will cost more than $3MM versus the $2.4MM previously stated. That would be at least a 25% increase in overall cost versus what we were initially told.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it looks like still more money will have to be “found.” Using our public school math skills, we can try to figure out whether we have budgeted enough money for the project. So, we need a little over $3MM dollars. Let’s call it $3.1MM. What do we have allocated?
1,700,000 (Federal Grant)
+ 900,000 (Summit County)
+ 95,000 (Park City)
$ 2,695,000 (Total)
Again, I’m a product of public school, but $2.7 million seems to be less than the $3.1 million required to build the transit center. So, it is likely someone will have to come up with an even additional $400,000 difference. Anyone want to guess who will be paying that additional money?
Yes, it will be you and me. That will likely bring Summit County’s total bill to $1.3 million, if it stays on budget once building starts.
Of course, that investment of $1.3 million may be worth it, should it take a substantial number of cars off the road. However, the question I continually ask is, even if the bus system gets slightly more efficient, will people get out of their cars and ride a bus. I may be proven wrong but I think that is highly unlikely.
This project seems like a last-grasp at a solution to make our buses work better. Perhaps our local governments have run out of ideas.
We’ve heard people don’t currently take buses because it takes three times as long as driving (on an average day). So, this idea gets introduced to put in place a transit center, and make buses “more efficient.” I suppose if this transit center let’s me get to the Canyons to ski in 20 minutes (total time from leaving my house) instead of the 15 minutes I may give it a try. I bet my wife would take the bus if she could leave our house in Jeremy and be to work in Prospector within 35 minutes. Right now, it usually takes about 20-25 minutes via car.
I frankly just don’t see it.
Last February, this just seemed like wasted money. Now, it just seems like more wasted money. I hope I’m wrong. We all want to get where we are going faster and we want our tax dollars used well. I’m frankly not sure whether this will do either.
That said, we’ll be tracking bus riding numbers. If this transit center equates to vastly improved ridership, we’ll let you know. Likewise, if it doesn’t, we’ll let you know that too.