On Wednesday, the Summit County Council will be reviewing a design for a bus transit center that occupies 3 acres behind the Richins Library building in Kimball Junction. The project, in development since 2010, aims to realign county bus routes for better efficiency, provide a “circulator” service around Kimball Junction, and provide expanded opportunities for regional transit services.
The proposed transit center has 10 spaces for buses, 2 spaces for vans, 20 parking spaces for cars, a 2500 sq foot customer service building (restrooms, info booth, etc.), and bike storage. This what the proposed facility will look like:
It’s a nice looking building and seems to complement the Richin’s Building nicely. It also appears to be a done deal. According to a Summit County presentation on the topic, “the Design [was] Reviewed and Approved by PC Transit. PC Transit Applied for a $1.7M Grant from FTA and an award was made in 2014. County Council Approved $500K for construction. PC Transit also rearranged FTA Monies for Design and Summit County Received a check for $95,000.”
Yet, is this just another case where we build something and spend taxpayer money with the hope that it will somehow do something? We’re not sure, but we do believe it’s another case of where hopes and wishes have trumped the real world. Here are our questions and concerns:
- From county documents, it sounds like they don’t want many people driving in and parking and using this as a park and ride (only 20 park and ride spaces). If they did, it would only contribute to additional traffic on 224. So, how will it be used? Most likely as a transfer station. Isn’t that sort of what the area by Newpark Hotel already does?
- Creating a base for buses that would circle around Kimball Junction is another stated goal. Again, that sounds good but what population will use this? We envision the idea is that people will ride around Kimball Village shopping and dining. However, what does that really look like? People would need to ride a bus from wherever they are to the new transit station. They would then get on the circulator bus. They would stop at Smith’s and do their shopping. They would have 3 or 4 bags of groceries. They would ride to PetCo and pick up their 30 pounds of dog food. They may stop off for lunch after that at Zuppas. They may then hit Best Buy to pick up that memory stick for their camera they’ve been needing. Really?…is that probable or even possible? We’ve been trying to figure out a scenario, with the current shops where someone may “circulate” around Kimball Junction. Maybe someone drops off their broken Mac at Simply Mac and heads to Maxwell’s for a beer? OK, that works. Perhaps they hit Best Buy, buy a salad at Whole Foods, and then go to the Salon? Yeah. Maybe we are missing something but the blend of shops and uses just doesn’t seem to lend itself to a circulator (at last right now and for the foreseeable future).
- Another stated goal is to have more efficient routes. We actually like this idea. If they were able to offer direct buses to Canyons, PCMR, and Deer Valley,thatmay be a great idea. However, a few obstacles would haveto be overcome:
- They don’t want us to drive and park there, so the average joe would need to catch a bus there. So, all those routes would also have to be optimized and made more frequent as well.
- It would have to be very frequent. Most people wouldn’t wait more than 15 minutes at the new transit station for the bus. So, the buses would have to run often. That’s more buses and more cost. It is also a gamble that by making it more frequent that will be enough to entice people to use the service.
- There couldn’t be more transfers for riders, because that takes time and turns people off. So, the transfer at this station would likely need to replace other transfers. It would have to be a hub and spoke system to the most popular destinations.
- It appears buses would exit both on to Landmark Drive and Ute Boulevard. During busy times of the day, Ute Blvd gets backed up by the Richens Library already. How much additional backup congestion will this add?
- Shouldn’t this be built with some room for expansion? It seems that to draw people, you need to have services that make people want to come. Perhaps in this case, there could be lockers for people to store their ski gear and places to dress for skiing. Maybe e-bikes could be rented in the summer (it’s pretty adjacent to the paved trail system). A coffee shop also wouldn’t be a bad idea. We believe there needs to be enough room to accommodate some of these things that may draw a few more people.
Overall, we can see why there were great hopes for this in 2010 and maybe it’s not a bad idea now. In 5 years, if Boyer Tech Park has been built, Kimball Junction has filled in with a myriad of different establishments, and people have changed their mindset to use the bus, then this will look very smart. However, if 2020 doesn’t look much different than 2015, then this will likely be just another hope-filled excursion.