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I love Summit County’s bus plans and you should be excited too

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.

Comments

2 Comments

Avatar
Walt

The folks in Silver Springs (including me) aren’t too happy. We’re one of the only neighborhoods that is kinda, sorta appropriate for conventional bus service, and we have no safe way to cross 224, so it looks like we’ll be trying to shlep car seats and groceries and such onto a microtransit vehicle, waiting for the bus and then doing it all over again the other way…

Or probably not. I mean, I can take my kid in a stroller and get on the bus to get to the store or the library or the Christian center right now. Add a car seat and several more loading/unloading steps… naw, I’ll just drive.

Microtransit could/might work great for Jeremy or Summit Park or other places that aren’t laid out well for a normal bus service. Silver Springs actually is, albeit presumably by accident. A lot of folks use the bus and some even chose the neighborhood/house due to bus access.

I guess we’ll see. I personally think this is a tacit admission that the bus service is just here to service tourists and locals are an afterthought.

Avatar
Karla

Personally, I’m of the persuasion that there are no transportation solutions to car culture. The only real solutions to car culture are land use solutions.

Parkites spend thousands of dollars on vacations to Europe and are amazed that European cities have such easy-to-use public transportation and that there’s so much to do within a short walk of where they’re staying. Then they return to their single-family home on a 1-acre lot in Silver Springs, surrounded by 1000 other single-family homes on 1-acre lots, and wonder why they can’t have conventional bus service.

Some 2010 Census data for you: 518.7 people per square mile in Snyderville (Silver Springs/Old Ranch Road), 493.1 in Summit Park CDP (Jeremy Ranch/Pinebrook/Summit Park), 430.2 in Park City (proper). Once we’re at a few thousand then we can talk about minimal bus service becoming practical, but even then, if grocery stores are illegal to build within miles of where everyone lives, expect the problem to get worse before it gets better.


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