Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

Should I take the Park City bus? An experiment highlights some of the obstacles in bus transit

Yesterday, the family and I decided we were going skiing at the Canyons. There was a Winter Storm Warning, which I suppose, is the perfect time to ski.

I asked, “should we take the bus?”. I feared traffic. I feared walking a mile to the Cabriolet lift with two small children.

We decided YES … as long as we could meet the bus schedule.

We decided to drive into the Kimball Junction Transit Center from Jeremy Ranch and take the bus from there. There is always plenty of parking there and it avoids the painful route back to Jeremy Ranch through Pinebrook.

We imagined the ride in, the short walk from the 7-Eleven to the Cabriolet lift. Heaven.

So when does the bus arrive at the Kimball Junction Transit Center? Good question. I pulled out my trusty “My Stop Mobile” app provided by Park City that shows transit schedules, where each bus is, etc. I pulled up “Stops” to see when the bus arrives at the transit center. It said the outbound stops would be at 23 and 53 after the hour. Outbound didn’t seem quite right… it seems I wanted to head IN to Park City.

After a few minutes fumbling, I went to “Routes” on the application. From previous research, I knew I wanted the 7 Pink West bus even though I wasn’t really heading west. From there I zoomed and finally found what appeared to be the Kimball transit center. There are two icons there almost on top of each other. I found that by zooming way in and then clicking on each of them, one of them seems to be outbound and one seems to be inbound. Ahhh, inbound seems right. By clicking on it, I found the bus stopped at 43 and 13 after the hour.

Ok, now we knew when we needed to be at the transit center and we headed out.

Unfortunately, we missed the bus by about 1 minute. We saw it pulling into the transit center and knew there wouldn’t be enough time to get on it. Missing the bus was our fault… or we could have waited a half an hour for the next bus. Or maybe there is another bus going to the Canyons that would have been workable but I have no idea how I would know that.

So, we drove to the Canyons and found semi-close public parking. It was a little walk but not as long as I had worried about. We were still at least 10 minutes ahead of when the bus would arrive (It winds through neighborhoods between the transit center and Canyons).

The drive and parking weren’t too bad.

Leaving the resort, we had no problem with traffic either. In the back of my head I also thought, “thank god I didn’t have to plan leaving based upon the bus schedule of every 30 minutes.” One less headache.

When will I consider riding the bus again? Maybe next year once I forget this experience. Why would I go through that effort? Maybe if I want to go to PCMR on a Saturday, when parking fills up by 7:00AM.

So, as a reader, you might take this as further whining about the buses. That’s not the intent. In this case, I wanted to highlight the issues, and there are a lot of them to be solved, with an average Parkite in Snyderville Bason taking the bus to go skiing. If you are on a bus route in Park Meadows I could see how the bus might work for you. If you rarely ride the bus from the ‘burbs, not so much.

There are a lot of moving parts, that don’t make a lot of sense, and are hard to maneuver. People don’t like hard.

I went to extraordinary lengths to try it out. I believe most people would have quit when they couldn’t have found the inbound timetable or they would have written it off forever when they confused the inbound for outbound route and were told they had the wrong bus and they had to wait longer.

As I think about the experience, I think there is more to it than the plans to increase bus frequency using the sales tax increase. A frequency increase MUST happen but there is more to it than that, if the city and county want to get me out of my car and on to a bus.

The whole process has to be re-thought if our government actually wants to substantially alter adoption rates. They have to make it easy AND give me a reason to ride the bus (maybe those incentives Ellen Sherk wrote about).

However, it looks like they lost me for 2017. There is aways next year.

Comments

8 Comments

Avatar
Ellen

I hope the Powers That Be read this. You and I are an anomaly in our attempts to make the bus system work. It IS the right thing to do, but there needs to be more work done before more people will get out of their cars and on the busses. Express busses and remote parking lots are a necessity for the system to work. And of course, incentives!

Avatar
Walt

I tend to agree. If the bus went just a few places, but did it often/quickly, it would be useful. I’m ok with walking/biking or even driving for 5 minutes to get on the bus (as you guys tried to) if the bus then saves me time.

So (from the Jeremy end of things, which is also what I’m familiar with):
-Jeremy/Pinebrook, use I-80 to get to Kimball jct (straight to the transit center, no looping around in the shopping area). No intermediate stops. If you live super close to Kimball, you won’t use the bus, but others will. Run every 10 or 15 minutes.
-Kimball to Old Town. Stop at Canyons and nowhere else. Don’t go through Silver Springs or anywhere else. Don’t exit the highway, just use a slip ramp at the Canyons. Run every 10-15 minutes.

You could also just combine those (total of 3 stops from the Jeremy End, no dithering around in neighborhoods), which might be better. The KJ-Old Town route has other buses running on it already, though, so you could also argue for just a Jeremy-KJ only express bus.

That really pretty much duplicates the Pink route, but it would take half the time and you could run it twice as often with (I think) negligible change in overall cost. Some people would lose out, but more people might actually use the bus since it would actually go somewhere useful

Avatar
Ellen

After Canyons, don’t you think it should stop at PCMR before it goes to Old Town? Then head on to Deer Valley. It’s the Ski Express. Once again, remote parking a necessity to make this work.

Avatar
Raine

As someone who took the bus to and from work for two years when I didn’t have a car and lived high up in Pinebrook, if the only bus option for me would have meant walking to Jeremy Ranch, that would have made my life significantly more difficult. I already had to walk nearly a mile to get to the bus stop that would then take me 45 minutes to get me to work on Main Street, or much longer in the winter. Most of the people who were riding buses with me were using it as a necessity, not a convenience. I understand that having a more efficient bus system would get more people who are looking to save time to ride the bus, but cutting down on stops would be incredibly detrimental for people who need the bus to make a living.

Avatar
Walt

Bluntly, upper Pinebrook is a bad place to live if you don’t have your own transport. It would indeed suck for some people, but if the goal is to get cars off the road, then you have to look at what would get the most people to ride.

If the goal is to provide free transportation to those who can’t otherwise afford it, that means a whole different set of requirements, of course.

I’d say the system currently does both pretty poorly, but there is no way to make the bus useful by having it drive endlessly through suburbia. Put a slip ramp on the I-80 entry for the PB side, problem solved.

Avatar
Steve Joyce

I know there are a lot of problems with getting people to ride the bus, but you’re right, it did sound like whining to me. What I read was: It took me some effort to figure out what time the bus came, but then I wasn’t on time, so I missed the bus and the bus is bad. Somehow people around the world make trains, buses and airplanes work but they are all based on the idea that you show up on time. I bet if you did that again you might leave a few minutes earlier and suddenly that problem is fixed.

The issue with the app seems like more of a system problem, but even now, having only tried to ride one time, I bet you are a lot more proficient with the app. These really don’t sound like big hurdles to me. Hurdles perhaps, but not big ones.

Frequency, routes and the ability to drive past the lines of traffic are the big issues to me.

Avatar
Parkrag

Steve, as always, I appreciate the comments.

So, I’ll admit to some whining… but the there are a few basic facts, as I see them:

1. If an average person can’t figure out when the bus comes, they aren’t going to ride it. In three months when I think about riding the bus again, will I remember that I don’t need to go to “STOPS” but I need to find the map, then zoom in so far that two points become separated, so I can find the pickup time? After typing this, I probably will. Will other people go to that effort? No.

2. If I thought about taking the bus, tried to take the bus, couldn’t, and then determined that I made the right choice by taking my car, am I likely to take the bus again in the near future? No.

3. I appreciate that people around the world make buses and trains work. However, if I’m at the Canyons, at the top of the Gondola, at the magic carpet, am skiing with two little kids, and want to take the bus back to my house, what time do I need to get on the gondola in order to catch the bus? Could I figure it out after 3 or 4 attempts? Generally yes … but sometimes I will miss it. With a car, you never consider those sorts of things. It’s a totally different mindset. That’s a big hurdle.

Again, could I make the bus work? Sure. Is it more convenient to drive my car? No (unless I’m headed to PCMR).

I agree frequency, routes, and bypassing traffic are important. If there was a bus that picked up at Jeremy Ranch, every 10 minutes, drove me directly to the Canyons, and bypassed all traffic, would I take it? Of course.

Is that the world we live in today? No.

Things of course could change (and I know they are trying). Even if they do, the powers that be had better make it easy for the public to figure out A) which bus they should take and B) when they can get on it. Those are two things I haven’t seen being considered.

Avatar
Walt

Yeah, there should be no need for an app, or extra planning. The damn bus needs to run every 10 minutes, between obvious places that lots of people want to go. Then you just go there whenever you want, and if you miss the bus by just 30 seconds, you don’t have to wait too long for the next one.

-W


Leave a Comment