400,000 Ride Park City Transit During March
Park City and Summit County’s free bus service had double digit increases in ridership this past ski season. The increases are highest on the Kamas to Park City route but almost all the routes showed more people using transit than ever before.
Ridership is monitored by Park City Municipal by counting the number of people boarding buses. They have a manual and electronic system that shows more than 400 thousand rides were given for the month of March. Summit County Transportation Planning Manager, Caroline Rodriguez says the overall transit system makes financial sense.
Rodriguez says the Electric Express had nearly 65,000 boarding’s for the month of March. The Ecker Park and Ride had about 126 boarding’s per day for the ski season. The Kamas Commuter bus had close to 6000 boarding’s. The Kimball Junction Connector had close to 70,000 riders in the past year with the overall cost about $6.25 per passenger.
“That’s a really, really effective use when you’re talking about transit investment in transit ridership. It sounds like a lot but think about the cost of roads and the environmental impacts. You know, you really have to weigh all the factors that go into a holistic transportation approach."
Rodriguez says there were only two routes, the brown and pink, that showed decreases because she says riders were using other routes. There has been criticism about changes made to the Pink Line since the electric bus also called the White bus was introduced in the past couple of years.
“We are always looking at how we can add appropriate services. And when I say appropriate, I mean a service that serves the type of density and geography and neighborhoods that were talking about. So, if we were to bring service back at a higher level to the Silver Springs area it would not be just going back to the old pink route.”
The County is talking with UTA about the Salt Lake/Park City Commuter Link. This past year, the route ended at the Kimball Transit Center instead of the Park City Transit Center. Rodriguez says there were problems with passengers catching the Salt Lake bus at Kimball Junction.
“You know, we thought we were going to save a lot more money by terminating it you know closer to the junction but because the savings weren't significant and because we've seen so many difficulties and we really cannot hold up the UTA bus at the junction because it's part of a larger network down in Salt Lake, so we really make the adjustments so that it can work for our passengers."
Rodriguez says some of the problems with the Salt Lake/Park City connection were related to the snow this winter. She thinks they’ll figure things out this summer.
“We had such a great winter. You know, our white buses, they are allowed to run in the shoulder but it really wasn't safe for them because there was so much snow and even when the snow was plowed it was falling over into the shoulder and the drivers made the right call and that is we always want to keep our passengers safe so they couldn't operate in the shoulder a lot of the time. So, it was just sort of like factor upon factor upon factor and it didn't work out this year.”
There is a guaranteed ride home program she says that could be used by anyone that misses the last bus. Rodriguez says it’s been used 11 times in the past 18 months.
“They could use the guaranteed ride home program to secure a private vehicle to get their ride back down to Salt Lake. So, call an Uber your favorite taxi whatever your service is. Save your receipt. Submit for reimbursement and we're happy to cover that cost.”
Rodriguez says they want to avoid making frequent changes to the routes so riders can rely on the bus system. Staff considers costs per rider and usage when evaluating the transit system overall.