You may have heard stories about Carmageddon. You may have even experienced it and lived to tell the tale of waiting in traffic for two hours as you tried to make your way home after one of the best snow days in 2014. Since that fateful date, Park City and Summit County leaders have made every attempt possible to make sure our transportation issues are solved and Carmageddon never happens again.
Or have they.
They’ve invested time and money into ideas, for sure. They’ve held meetings. They’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into studies. They are building a transit center in Kimball Junction. Yet, it all focuses on the bus. Perhaps, you are going to ride the bus on your next trip to Vail, but I’m probably not.
I want to get from my house to PCMR as fast as I can, so I can ski. What are my options? Today I can take the bus and get there over an hour later (with no traffic) or to drive and get there in 20 minutes. Yet, when I drive, half the time the parking lot is full and I have to park at Fresh Market. Sound Familiar? Given the options, I (and most people) drive, even with the parking situation.
Enter Uber. Uber has been making inroads in the Park City market during the last year. Their focus has been around providing services during Sundance. Yet, I wonder if there is a bigger fish to fry. In a few select cities, Uber has launched UberPool. This is a carpooling service where riders can share an Uber ride with another person. It is about half the price of a normal Uber ride. That sounds great. I could see why people would use UberPool, but let’s take it a step further.
Imagine if Park City Municipal and Summit County worked with Uber to create UberSki. UberSki would be based on UberPool, using the traditional uber service, with Uber drivers, with four wheel drive vehicles and ski racks, that picked up people across Park City (maximum 4 riders) and transported them from their homes to resort and back.
If I, as a rider, had to spend an extra 10 minutes to pick up other skiers in my area, but was dropped off at the lift, and it cost $5 to $10, I would probably pay it (especially when our resorts start charging for parking). I would bet that I’m not alone.
If local governments worked with Vail and Deer Valley to subsidize this, it could even be more attractive.
The more I look at our transportation issues, I don’t see buses as a viable option unless massive structural changes are made to the way our community lives and operates. A solution like UberSki could take pressure off of some of our most contentious events and help alleviate some of the issues surrounding transportation.
I know that it sounds like another crazy idea from the Park Rag. That said, expanding on an idea that works (Uber) is usually a lot easier than expanding on an idea that doesn’t (buses).