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With Shortage Of Drivers, Buses, Park City Considers Alternatives For Regional Transit

KPCW Radio

The Park City Council discussed the future of the municipal transit system for two hours at Thursday’s council meeting. 

Park City Transportation Director Alfred Knotts says, after 40 years of operation, the Park City Transit system has reached its limit—in every way.

“Park City Transit is at capacity," Knotts said. "In terms of employees, in terms of facility space, in terms of equipment and in terms of fleet maintenance and everything that comes along with operating this system.”

That’s one reason the Park City Council discussed its transit priorities at length Thursday. The council sought to answer questions: who does the transit system serve, who are the city’s partners in transit, what needs are unmet by the current system. The study session was intended to help councilmembers focus their thoughts around Park City Transit’s role in addressing traffic congestion and social equity needs, as they head into a meeting with the Summit County Council in February to discuss the transit system’s future.

As one of Park City’s representatives on the Joint Transit Advisory Board with Summit County, Park City Councilmember Tim Henney has criticized the idea of the county as an equal governing partner of the transit system. Looking ahead to a future system of governance, Henney says Park City no longer wants to be the only transit provider serving the county.

“There needs to be transit in a regional sense and a regional district, but who's responsible for providing that?" Henney said. "Who's responsible for governing it, who's responsible for funding it, is what we're talking about.”

Henney says the city still believes it’s important to provide transit to people outside of Park City limits—many people who work within Park City live in more affordable areas out of town. To serve the rest of the county, though, Henney thinks Summit County should step up to the plate.

“I do not believe that Park City Transit should be responsible for providing those routes," Henney said. "That service and that funding should be handed off to the county, and they should be the regional transit authority because that's what they do.”

What that regional transit authority structure could look like is up for debate, considering the involvement of other potential stakeholders, such as the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority and Wasatch County. But Henney feels strongly about Park City’s own direction.

“Park City should be focused on Park City Transit," Henney said. "This is new; this is the sea change that’s occurred.”

The Park City and Summit County Councils will meet Feb. 5 for a joint visioning session on transit.

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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