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Park City Transit Counts At Least 80 Dogs On Buses During Halloween Celebration

A man in ski gear, a woman wearing a black-and-white wig and a dog wearing a pumpkin costume stand at a bus stop
Harold Shambach

Park City’s Halloween festivities bring some 5,000 visitors and locals into town, drawn by trick-or-treating and the Howl-o-ween dog parade. To encourage taking public transit to the events, Park City changed its policy for one day to allow dogs on buses. 

Prospector resident Harold Shambach often rides Park City Transit around town. On Halloween, he had a new travel buddy. Shambach and his dog, Torrey, rode a crowded bus to and from the Howl-o-ween parade on Park City’s Main Street. Shambach says Torrey was a pretty good passenger, all things considered.

“He was locked, kind of, in the house all day, so he was pretty hyper to get going," Shambach said. "He was also in a costume, which is a little different, but he was good. We sat in the very back, off to the side, and kind of stayed out the way from everybody else.”

Park City Transportation Director Alfred Knotts says drivers tallied around 80 dogs on the bus routes, though he believes that number is probably higher. The transit team would need to do a survey to determine if more people rode the bus as a result of the program, but Knotts says they’ve received feedback in the past about how prohibiting dogs on the bus—except service animals—has been a barrier to riding.

“Otherwise, you know, those 81 or whatever number that we exceeded or tallied would have most likely driven their car,” Knotts said.

Knotts says he hasn’t heard of any issues between dogs and passengers on Halloween, though he received some concerned emails prior to the event related to allergies and apprehension around dogs. Overwhelmingly, though, the community seems to support the policy.

Park City Transit currently has a no-dogs policy because it’s a liability issue, like for those who have allergies or dogs that aren’t well-behaved. But Knotts says it’s something that could be implemented outside of the peak winter season—he doesn’t think it’s responsible to have the dogs on the bus when it’s crowded with visitors, skiers and their gear.

“You add that element into it—you add people with skis, and snowboards, and ski poles, and ski boots potentially stepping on dogs, or something like that," Knotts said. "Honestly, having a wet dog on a bus is not very attractive to some people, too, during our wet seasons. So I think it would be a lot lower risk if we entertain the policy that was during the spring, summer and fall months, and that's when people really do want to take their dogs to trailheads, or bring them into town, or take them out into our open space.”

Shambach says he’d definitely ride the bus more if he could bring Torrey with him, especially when it’s cold outside.

“We go walk to Old Town a lot, a lot of times with the dog, because we know they don't allow them on buses on the way home," Shambach said. "Especially this time of year, when it gets cold at night, it's kind of tough to walk the two miles home when it's freezing temperatures. So it would be really nice to have that year round and as an option.”

Before any policy change happens, Knotts says Park City Transit needs to consult with Summit County, as they operate the system together.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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