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Park City and Summit County need to be careful and rational with Covid requirements

On Thursday, there is an NHL ice hockey game in Salt Lake at Vivint Arena. The Vegas Golden Knights are playing the L.A. Kings. It should have been a fun event; however, the Covid-handling of this game provides a cautionary tale to our local governments and businesses.

Weeks ago, Ticketmaster announced that adults would need to be fully vaccinated and kids under 12 would need to wear masks to be admitted to the game. Personally, my family fits into that requirement, so that’s no big deal for us. Then yesterday we received another email from Ticketmaster stating that Vivint was changing those terms. They said all kids under 12 now had to have a negative Covid test within the last 72 hours.

What? How do you get a test result in less than 36 hours until the game?

“How you do it” is that my wife got the kids out the door at 7 AM this morning and went to the Park City School District testing facility before school. She took advantage of our school’s rapid testing facility. Our neighbor did the same. However, two of our kids’ friends decided to skip the game because they were afraid of getting tested. Fair enough. I get it.

So, the impact of this decision was to encourage us to misuse public resources because there were no other options (other than giving away hundreds of dollars in tickets).

In hindsight, should we have used the school Covid testing facilities? I’m not sure, but there were no other alternatives from our perspective. My 9-year-old did tell them he was there so he could see the Vegas Golden Knights and they didn’t object. However, I am certain they didn’t intend to offer school testing so kids could go to a hockey game.

By the way, three hours after my kids were tested, Vivint issued a Tweet (because we all follow Twitter) that kids didn’t have to be tested, after all.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it understandable? I don’t know.

It really sickens me that my family used public resources when it wasn’t required. I’d love for PCSD and the Health Department to send a $150 bill to Vivint. I’m sure my wife would like two hours of her life back. I’m sure my kids would rather have not undergone the stress of a Covid test. I’m sure that the kids who decided that front row seats at an NHL game weren’t worth getting prodded by the Covid machine, would have rather not dealt with that stress.

None of that can be taken back.

However, locally we can be aware of the repercussions of decisions like these. I think often officials in Summit County error the side of being strict with Covid. That is probably generally OK. It may allow our schools to stay open and enable us to have a ski season. However, there is always a cost.

As we progress through this Covid-world, we need to make sure we think through all the unintended consequences of our community’s actions. What often sounds good, often isn’t in reality.

To mask or not to mask in Park City Schools

School starts next week. In the scheme of things, that is a minor miracle. You can give Superintendent Dr. Gildea and the School Board all the crap you want, but they navigated us through the most challenging year in Park City school history. They found a way to make it work. Kudos to them. It couldn’t have been easy.

This year is more complicated. Are your kids going to wear a mask to school? As of now, that is your and your kids’ choice. Summit County’s Health Department theoretically could demand masks, but the County Attorney isn’t sure a mandate from the County would be legally enforceable in schools. If they got around their legal concerns, then the County Council would have the opportunity to overturn that order if wanted. Then, even if the council required masks, it is likely the Utah state Legislature wouldn’t allow it to stand.

Masks won’t be required in schools. Such is Utah — for better and worse.

That said, over fifty people arrived at the Richen’s Building in Kimball Junction on Wednesday to speak for and against masks in our schools. It’s the sort of activism that makes local politics so unique. You can actually make a difference.

In this case, a public groundswell of people who favored masks in schools wanted to make their voices heard during Public Comment at the County Council meeting. Those people opposed to masking mandates also seized upon the Public Comment opportunity to voice their opinions. For those who may not be aware, Public Comment is a period at 6 PM during each County Council meeting where people can speak for three minutes on any topic that isn’t listed on that meeting’s agenda. It’s a great opportunity if you happen to have concerns because the County Council impacts our daily lives and they are generally more than happy to listen.

The comments from the public followed the typical debate over masks. The difference, in this case, was that it was our neighbors, who we know, expressing their feelings about masks in schools. That’s different from someone on MSNBC or Fox News with the standard talking points. On the mask side, the arguments boiled down to it worked last year, we should keep our kids safe, the variant is worse, and you don’t have the right to infringe on others’ rights (to health and safety). On the non-mask side, the arguments ranged from parents’ right to choose, to allowing children’s immune system to develop naturally, to statistics about impacts on children, and you don’t have the right to infringe on others’ rights.

My personal favorite comment was a measured one. One gentleman basically said, let’s do a mask mandate for 30 days and compare Park City to other areas. That can then further instruct the future. It’s an interesting idea.

While I like reporting on issues impacting the Park City area, regular readers will know that this issue is personal for me. I have two kids at Jeremy Ranch. I don’t know what our family is going to do. My kids are fortunate enough not to have disabilities that make mask-wearing hard or detrimental to education. They don’t mind masks. At the same time, I believe by the end of the day, my kids’ masks are dirty, cesspools of germs that likely negatively impact them.

So, as of now, here is my family’s approach. We are going to privately ask our teachers if they have a reason they would prefer everyone to wear a mask. Some of our teachers in the past have had cancer or other issues. We will respect that and wear masks to protect them if that is better for their health.

If they state no preference, we are trying to teach our kids how Covid is typically transmitted and ask them to wear masks during those times. If they are in a classroom for an hour, 3 feet from other kids, keep your mask on. Are you lining up, six inches from the next student? Put your mask on. Are you outside at recess? Don’t bother.

I know that there are flaws in every one of those ideas and the plan isn’t perfect. However, it is a compromise.

We will likely send two masks and ask them to switch mid-day, to mitigate the cesspool effect.

The question I keep asking myself is would I really want a mask mandate? There are undoubtedly health benefits to masks, but I could say that about masks preventing things like the flu. Would I want a forever-mandate because they reduce the transmission of lots of viruses? Probably not — that would seem miserable to me.

Yet, if a mask mandate kept our schools open all year, would I want it? Probably.

So, do I want a mandate? Maybe? I just don’t know.

The reality is that I won’t have to make a decision on a mandate. Masks will be optional, but my kids will wear them when practical or all the time if their teacher(s) need the help. That’s what we are going to do, but it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Regardless, I love the fact that so many people showed up to discuss an issue so politically charged. We once again showed that we as a community can have a civil discussion.

Below is a quick cut of the various comments at the meeting. If you have time to watch, the entire segment gives you an overview of what our community is generally thinking.

As always, we are all in this together. We’re going to have to work together to make it through another year. We can do this.

Two things we expect at the next Park City School Board meeting

Happy Summer. School is out and we made it through the most challenging school year in Park City’s recent history. Kudos to the School Board, Dr. Gildea, teachers, and all the staff that made it happen. Compared to so many districts across the country, we have done well with regard to Covid. Good job everyone.

Yet, Park City is a strange place. We can’t seem to get out of our own way. We make things harder than they should be. Two things come to mind with the Park City School District.

First, the School Board needs to accept public input at meetings —and for as many hours as it takes. In the previous School Board meeting, the district did not allow for public comment. I’m not sure whether the board hates criticism, hates that they will get home two hours later than they think, or just thinks the criticism they are getting isn’t warranted.

I would encourage the School Board to attend a Snyderville Basin Planning Commission meeting. The Planning Commission starts at 6 PM (or earlier) and sometimes stretches until almost midnight. They are discussing everything from the slope of a driveway to whether the Tech Park Should become a hotel. It’s hard, but that’s what they signed up for. They allow everyone to talk and often times for more than the “normal 3 minutes” of allotted time. They want to ensure people have their say and learn from the community’s perspective. And yes, they take their fair share of abuse.

The Park City School Board needs to do the same. Public input needs to be accepted and (more importantly) listened to — even if it is uncomfortable. That’s how we get better. If the School Board won’t allow for Public comment at the June 15th meeting, the Park Rag will provide a way for people to provide their school related public comment. It’s important.

Second, the School Board needs to have an agenda item that clarifies the Park City School District’s position on whether teachers have the right for their children to attend the school where they teach. We have heard that the district claims nothing has changed from previous years. Yet, from specific records we have been provided, denial notices are being sent to teachers that prevent their children from attending the school at which they teach. There is some disconnect here. This could be solved by a policy GUARANTEEING teachers’ children can attend the school at which they teach.

The standard play from authorities like the School District is to ignore the issue and hope it blows over. That’s where we are now. Our intent is not to let that happen.

So, we are hoping to hear two things related to the Park City School District during the June 15 Park City School Board Meeting. First, there will be public comment that enables our citizens (the people who fund the district) to provide comment, during the meeting and on the record, on how things are going. Second, we want to hear that any teacher’s children can attend the school at which their parent teaches, regardless of whether the school is “full” or not.

If the School District can’t do these two simple things, it’s unlikely we can trust them with more than a hundred million dollars to rebuild our school infrastructure in the coming years.

Hopefully they will address both public comment and teachers’ children in the meeting next week. Then we can get on to discussing master plan ideas(i.e. new buildings) and deciding what is really best for our school district.

Until the Park City School Board shows competence and respect to the public, everything else is tainted.

Park City teachers you are magical

In a week, the school year will be done. Park City teachers, you have been amazing. Kids have been able to attend school in the middle of a pandemic with few exceptions. Kids have attended school. They have been educated. They didn’t miss a year. They learned.

Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but we made it through.

As a parent, I salute you.

I’m sure the School Board will take credit. I’m sure the Superintendent will take credit. I’m sure the District Office will take credit.

I’m sure everyone, but you, will take credit.

But it’s you.

Thank you.

We are already beginning to lose teachers due to Park City School District changes

In January, the Park City School Board made changes to their enrollment policy for teachers. The school district claims that they were only ensuring that their policies matched the Utah State code. I continually hear from school officials “that nothing has changed.”

Unfortunately, it seems something has changed. Teachers across the district are getting requests denied to allow their children to attend the same school where they teach.

Whether intended or not, our community is now seeing the impacts of this policy change. I am now aware of two people at Jeremy Ranch Elementary who are being forced to leave due to this policy. I won’t name their names because that is their business, but I will tell you that kids like these individuals.

I know of others across the district who are likely to follow. In our comments section, a teacher’s partner wrote that their family had to move out of Park City due to high rental costs, and now they are fearing that their kids won’t be able to attend Park City schools. Can you imagine what pressure that is putting on their family?

Frankly, this whole thing is asinine. I don’t know if the district is really trying to sync up policy, don’t like teachers being at the same school as their children, are making a power play, or whether our schools don’t have room for a few more teachers’ children. Regardless of the reason, this is crazy.

The school district needs to save face on this. What I HAVEN’T heard them say is, “we think we will retain and attract the best teachers if we ensure their children can attend the same school that they teach at.” They need to say that. Then they need to amend the policy to state it. It’s that simple.

If they don’t, we are learning that the district doesn’t want teachers’ children to attend the same school where they teach. Then next fall, when our children show up for school, and beloved Ms. Johnson or Mr. Baxter isn’t there, we’ll know why.

Likewise, when the district “can’t find enough” teachers, again, we will know why.

The School District and School Board made a mistake on this — for whatever reason. It can happen to all of us. But now they need to fix it.

We will lose good teachers because Park City School District changed their enrollment policy

For years, Park City teachers, regardless of what zone or district they live in, have been able to bring their own children to attend the elementary school where they teach. Allowing this is really common sense – it makes teachers’ lives much easier (imagine trying to arrange dropping off your kids at another school when you’ve got to be in 30 minutes before class starts during ski season!), and it helps attract top talent from our local community (we’ve got lots of local teachers who aren’t doing it for the money) and outside districts. If you have younger kids in the district, you know very well that many of our most beloved teachers have or have had kids in PC schools.

Then in January, the Park City School District (PCSD) passed changes to policy 10010. In specific, they changed the rules for PCSD teachers. No longer could those teachers depend on the district allowing their children to go to the same school that they teach at (or any Park City school for that matter if they live out of district). Here are the changes (strikethrough and red indicate removal and additions).

By striking through “that have been declared closed to open enrollment,” the district appears to intend not to guarantee a spot at the teacher’s school. By adding, “The exception is not a guarantee of admission to an otherwise closed school…” it drives home the point. They don’t want this to happen.

For those that don’t follow our schools quite as closely, what is a closed school? No, it’s not due to Covid-19. It’s a school where the district has determined there is no more room. It’s an arbitrary number that the district reports to the state. If a school is “open to enrollment,” then children from outside the PCSD area can attend Park City Schools. As stated before, even if a school was closed, generally, teachers could count on their kids attending the same school they teach at. Now, that opportunity seems highly unlikely.

By the way, as of now, all Park City schools are closed to open enrollment. I’m not sure that’ll remain the case. If so, I’m not sure what that means for any teacher who has children entering the district.

Now that the district has decided to revoke that privilege from teachers, citing enrollment, cost concerns, and policy alignment, we are left wondering why. To us at the Park Rag, this doesn’t pass the smell test.

1: Park City schools have slowly trended down in enrollment over the last decade or so. We’re an increasingly rich and retired community, and when a median home costs $1.5 million, there aren’t a lot of families with kids that can afford to live here. Even the district itself predicts declining enrollment going forward. We don’t have a problem with capacity, though the distribution of students between schools may need some tweaks.

Here is a Park Record article on the subject. Here is another.

2: Per pupil funding is minimally affected by allowing out-of-district teachers’ children to attend the school they work at and not affected at all by in-district transfers – the state allocates the same money per child for the school regardless of whether they are a teacher’s kid or live in the district. There’s not a money problem here.

3: According to our sources (teachers and district employees) in-district transfers to ostensibly closed schools have been approved this year – while teachers have been denied. It would be great to let anyone enroll anywhere, but if we’re going to give preferential treatment to any group in enrolling outside of their district or zone, it probably should be teachers.

Given the reality that other districts in Utah are now paying as much as or more than PCSD, and that we can’t hope to recruit the best of the best teachers (especially if they can’t bring their kids…), being able to enroll your kids at your school is a very effective way to attract top talent. It’s also a benefit that has been provided for years that is suddenly being taken away for no apparent reason.

We reached out to the school district for comment. The district responded, “The Open Enrollment Policy at PCSD was updated in January 2021 to ensure that it is aligned to the Code as well as for clarification of the enrollment paperwork process, which remains the same as it has previously, other than asking that employees complete the 1-page enrollment form annually…Adjustments in the language were not intended to adjust/alter educators’ or staff participation in the process or their ability to apply for enrollment. The district and school board see open enrollment as a positive and the policy reads, ‘In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to apply to attend schools within the district.’ District employees are encouraged to submit their Open Enrollment application in the event they are interested in having their children attend a Park City School. The process, parameters or practices related to staff’s open enrollment has not changed meaning – as long as space is available – which has always been the standard practice – students are able to be enrolled within the schools.  Once a student has been enrolled, they matriculate with their grade level and enrollment capacity is reevaluated at times of transition such as K-5, 6-7, 8-9, and then 10-12.” The response in its entirety is at the conclusion of this story.

While this makes it sound like nothing has changed, it feels like it has. We’ve heard from teachers who have been denied enrollment for children at the school they teach at. We’ve seen letters telling teachers to apply to other schools in the district and they may get the children into those schools if the school is open for enrollment. This doesn’t appear to match the process that was in place previously. Finally, if the change was all about getting paperwork in order, why change pieces of the policy to exclude closed schools from teachers?

It doesn’t make sense to someone on the outside. Perhaps the district received a legal recommendation stating that they couldn’t provide these benefits to teachers. Perhaps the district feels they’ll get more out of a teacher if their child isn’t in the same school. Perhaps they are posturing for a bond offering (or something similar) based on the fact that we need to expand schools and they want to be able to say they are doing everything to limit enrollment. Or perhaps they really did just want to clarify the policy and disrupt a bunch of teachers lives.

Any way you slice it, it doesn’t seem like good policy. It is starting to impact teachers as they contemplate next year. Some of our best teachers may decide to go elsewhere because they work at Trailside and can only get their kid into McPolin — or perhaps nowhere in Park City.

The district needs to provide some clear reasoning for this decision backed up with facts, not just hand-waving about money concerns, crowding, or policy. Nothing kills morale like unpopular policy changes made without a clear rationale. If we want great teachers in the future, we need to do right by the ones we have now.

Think this is outrageous? You can make your voice heard by contacting the school board and/or superintendent Gildea here:

Response from the School District to a request for a comment:

Open Enrollment is governed through Utah Code and is available state-wide as a practice in Utah:
The Open Enrollment Policy at PCSD was updated in January 2021 to ensure that it is aligned to the Code as well as for clarification of the enrollment paperwork process, which remains the same as it has previously, other than asking that employees complete the 1-page enrollment form annually. The enrollment paperwork is helpful in that we then have a record of the number of students who apply from out of boundary or via Intradistrict transfer annually. 

Adjustments in the language were not intended to adjust/alter educators’ or staff participation in the process or their ability to apply for enrollment. The district and school board see open enrollment as a positive and the policy reads, “In order to enhance the district’s ability to attract and retain qualified employees from outside district boundaries, the children of employees who work at least three-quarter time shall be allowed to apply to attend schools within the district.” 

District employees are encouraged to submit their Open Enrollment application in the event they are interested in having their children attend a Park City School. 

The process, parameters or practices related to staff’s open enrollment has not changed meaning – as long as space is available – which has always been the standard practice – students are able to be enrolled within the schools.  Once a student has been enrolled, they matriculate with their grade level and enrollment capacity is reevaluated at times of transition such as K-5, 6-7, 8-9, and then 10-12. 

While staff’s children are enrolled at the school sites, the educator or staff member maintain their professional responsibilities during contract hours meaning – attending meetings, preparing for classes, holding parent conferences, or recording student progress, and their children may enroll in the community education after school programs held at each site or may participate in other activities such as YSA while their parent is working on Friday afternoons.  Those supports remain in place as we move forward as well.  
We will also be piloting a fee-based before care program for working families to provide earlier drop off, breakfast, and supervised care for our community as well as for staff members who may wish to participate in that program. 

Silver Springs, you aren’t getting your bus back but there may be alternatives

If you haven’t been following the drama of Silver Springs and the loss of their bus route, here is the tldr;:

Park City and Summit County had a falling out over the current bus system. Summit County is making their own bus system called High Valley Transit (HVT). As part of that, they are canceling the 7 Pink bus service that runs through Silver Springs. Silver Springs residents are up in arms because it impacts their transportation options. Many claim they moved there because of the bus.

So, that’s where we are. Silver Spring residents are writing letters to the Park Record. They are calling their County Council people. A few have sent in comments to the Park Rag. I’m sympathetic, but I also pay attention to what our leaders say. In Wednesday’s County Council meeting, HVT Board president Kim Carson and Summit County Regional Transportation Planning Director, Caroline Rodriguez, spoke about current plans and answered questions from council persons.

According to the county council conversation, here is why your leaders think the current HVT plans are good for you (and why your bus isn’t coming back).

  • Huge buses are going through your neighborhood with “no one” on them. That’s a waste of resources and bad for the environment.
  • Today buses come every 30 minutes. HVT plans are better because “on-demand” minivans will pick you up in 15 minutes. It’s actually better for you whether you believe it or not.
  • Neighboring neighborhoods can now call for pickups, instead of having to walk to your neighborhood. It’s a benefit for others.
  • There is no time. They are establishing temporary offices at park-and-rides and getting in vehicles (hopefully) a week or two before launch. There is no time for changes.

I see the flaws in these arguments. For instance, yesterday morning, at many times, there were more people on the 7-Pink in Silver Springs than on the 10 Electric from KJ to PC. However, I think leaders have made up their minds — for now.

The “for now” is the important part. Kim Carson did say that they want to be flexible. They want to alter their plans based on how the system functions. So, Silver Springs residents, I’d give up on the fight to get a diesel bus careening through your burb. It’s not going to happen. However, I wouldn’t settle for a generic micro-transit alternative either.

I was messaging back and forth with someone who lives in Silver Springs and they had a good point. If the micro-transit would pick them up and take them to the Canyons or a central spot like Smith’s in Kimball Junction, that may be good enough. I think the Silver Springs’ fear is that they will need to take micro-transit to another bus stop, transfer, and then get to the Canyons or Smith’s to shop.

So, why not propose that Silver Springs micro-transit have expanded drop-offs for a trial period. If every pickup ends up being one family in a car headed to the Canyons or KJ, then expanded service doesn’t make sense. It’s no better than the family hopping in a car. If there is really the demand that is being signaled, then perhaps it would make sense to continue on-demand, micro-transit to a few extended locations like the Canyons and into Kimball Junction. If demand is big enough, perhaps a small shuttle bus would make sense.

Silver Springs is a little different from many neighborhoods in the Basin. For example, in Jeremy Ranch, HVT micro-transit is an addition to what we have had. In Silver Springs, the current HVT plan is seen as a subtraction. By providing Silver Springs with a chance to show that it makes sense to provide an expanded micro-transit, it may bridge the gap.

The diesel bus isn’t coming back to Silver Springs, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. Perhaps my proposal isn’t what Silver Springs wants, but maybe Silver Spring residents can come up with something that meets both the HVT and residents’ needs.

Note, the video of the meeting seems to have disappeared but here is the link in case it comes back.

Silver Springs residents betrayed by Summit County’s new bus plans

A guest post from a Silver Springs local:

I think it’s fair to say that the residents of Silver Springs feel betrayed by the loss of the Pink bus. We are one of the very few neighborhoods in the area that is reasonably well laid out for public transit (in the 5 minutes it takes the bus to drive through, it comes within easy walking distance of 300+ houses) and while Covid has put a damper on ridership, it’s historically been popular, at least in my experience.

It’s not clear to me why every other Lime bus couldn’t come through Silver Springs (service every 30 minutes as it is now). The detour takes minimal time, serves lots of residents well, and is easy to use and understand.

I personally have zero interest in taking a microtransit vehicle (which we both know will show up late half the time, causing me to miss the bus I want) with my kids/carseats/stroller/etc. Transferring between vehicles multiple times per trip just means I’ll drive, even if I didn’t have to lug carseats and boosters around. I imagine many people here feel the same.

Don’t get me wrong, if I lived in Jeremy Ranch, or Silver Creek, or some other area that is impractical to serve with a fixed line, I’d be excited. The microtransit service will be a big upgrade for those places. But I don’t – I live somewhere that I chose partially because of access to the bus, as did many of my neighbors.

This plan is throwing the Silver Springs area under the proverbial bus in exchange for a savings of 5 minutes of drive time and a few gallons of fuel a day. It’s penny wise and pound foolish, and it’s a plan that was made with what appears to be no public input. We should change it and keep the bus running through Silver Springs.

Silver Springs Resident

Let’s Support Park City’s Wyatt Pike on American Idol

Park City is still a small place. While there are lots of new folks and outside influences, I believe we are still a family. We support our own. When Park City’s own Gold-medalist ski jumper Lindsey Van fought for women’s ski jumping in the Olympics, the community got behind her. Through her efforts, Women’s ski jumping became an Olympic sport in 2014. A triumph.

Today we have the chance to support another born-and-raised Parkite — Wyatt Pike. Wyatt is competing on a musical television show called American Idol. Out of tens of thousands of contestants, he has made it to the top 24 of all people on American Idol. Amazing. Starting this Sunday (April 4) he needs internet votes from all of us to continue in the competition. Is competing on a television singing show on the same level as enabling equal rights in the Olympics. Probably not. However, Wyatt is one of ours.

I first met Wyatt a few years ago in the Park City Follies. He and fellow high-schooler Christian Labertew were our two high school performers who showed up for weeks of practice and then ten nights of shows. Wyatt and Christian were amazing. They were pleasant. They were considerate. They were kind. They were talented. They fit in with people who, in many cases, had acted and sung for decades. They were Park City kids.

Now Wyatt has grown up and needs some help. Having watched his performances on America Idol, I would call him Park City’s Woody Guthrie. Occasionally, he stretches into Park City’s Mumford & Sons. He is fun to watch. Some day he will be performing in Nashville or Austin — without a doubt. Our Park City family can help him get there sooner.

He will be competing again on Sunday April 4. He needs your vote. You can help him in three ways. Starting on Easter, you can vote via the America Idol Website, using the American Idol app, or by sending a text to 21523. This will help Wyatt become one of the finalists. This will springboard his career. It’s what we would do for family.

As Lionel Ritchie said about Wyatt, “You’re Park City’s James Taylor. You are a fabulous story teller. You are in your own lane.”

If you haven’t seen Wyatt, here is his background:

Here is the song that got him into the top 24:

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.