The long-running joke is that everyone loves buses because they hope everyone else will ride them. With Park City Transit, buses typically have 5 or less people on them. It doesn’t make a real difference for travel or the environment. In fact, if a diesel bus has less than 9 people, it would have been better for the environment if people would have driven their own cars instead.
Yet, if we adopt bussing as a community, we can make a real difference.
Over the years, I have had a love-hate relationship with Park City’s bus service. I love it because I haven’t driven to a ski resort in almost half a decade. The bus is so much simpler because I don’t worry whether there is a parking spot and it drops me far closer to the lift than if I drove. I hate it because I have to get in my car to drive to the Ecker Hill Park and Ride to catch the bus. Driving half-way sort of defeats the benefits of the bus.
Enter Summit County’s new bus plans. If you haven’t heard, they are splitting from Park City Transit later this year. They are forming a new transit district called High Valley Transit. The promise is to get you from Jeremy Ranch to Deer Valley in 30 minutes. Another promise is having vans pick up people from their homes across our neighborhoods and deliver them to transit points efficiently.
So, imagine you are in Summit Park and you want to Ski on some random Sunday. You use their app to schedule a pick you up near your home. They pick you up and then deliver you to the bus stop with the next pickup headed towards PCMR within the next 15 minutes. You get dropped off within 1000 feet of the Cabriolet lift at the Canyons; Oh, and the buses are said to actually have ski racks on them so you don’t have to schlock your skis into the van or bus. Why wouldn’t you do it?
It’s a no-brainer. If you do this, your car doesn’t pollute. Your car doesn’t jam the roads. You don’t take up a parking space. You don’t worry about getting a parking space. You are dropped off close to lifts. Everyone wins.
So, I’m excited by the idea of the High Valley Transit System. Long-term it could link Heber, Kamas, Coalville, and the Salt Lake Valley to Park City. It would bring in more business without impacting roads. Yet, because I’m petty, I would never have a bus stop at Hideout — let them suffer – Hideout is toxic — but that’s a story for another time — or every time.
That said, I believe there are challenges in the proposal.
First, can you really get from Jeremy Ranch to Deer Valley in 30 minutes with the available-stops proposed? I’m not so sure, but if they promise it, they better be able to deliver.
Second, I should be able to schedule a pickup within 30 minutes. The expectations are in the ballpark of Lyft/Uber waiting times. If it is longer than that, I won’t do it. I don’t think most people will either. There should also be the ability to schedule pickups ahead of time which alleviates that issue.
Third, they better backfill the service to ensure places like Silver Springs that had direct bus service have adequate service levels.
Overall, I like what Summit county is proposing. It is so much better for us Basin locals than what Park City Transit provides. That said, there are no good ideas — there is only execution.
If Summit County executes, this could be a game changer. I hope they do. If so, we will all use the crap out of it.