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High Valley Transit District Board Member Details How the Agency Will Operate

Roger Armstrong

The High Valley Transit District Board, a new transit agency intended to serve the Snyderville Basin, is on a fast track to launch by July 1.


The board is meeting nearly every week to get contracts and agreements in place, and board member Roger Armstrong spoke to KPCW about the numerous moving parts that make up the District.


Armstrong said that the High Valley Transit District is technically independent from the Summit County transit agency—although at this point, three of the five Board Members are Summit County Councilors including Armstrong, Chris Robinson and Doug Clyde. The other two members are Joe Spink former county councilor Kim Carson.


Summit County Transportation Director Caroline Rodriguez is currently serving as the agency’s general manager.


“The county will oversee the budgets,” Armstrong said. “But this is an independent district, and is able to run its own affairs. And as we continue to grow and become a more regional district, as we annex in other municipalities and perhaps partner with Wasatch County and others to form a larger, more regional transit district, that will become more apparent, because there’ll be more board seats that will be filled by those individual jurisdictions. And it’ll start to shift a bit.’


He said that a bus driver working in the Basin will technically be an employee of the private firm Via. At the last meeting, the Transit Board approved a service agreement with Via, which will take care of operations and maintenance.


“Frankly, I don’t think we could have done this, on anything approaching this timeline, from the time we essentially elected to do this late last year to now, without that third-party expertise to help us implement quickly,” Armstrong said. “They’ve got access to vehicles. They will sign contracts with drivers and third-party contractors. They’ll obtain the insurance. They’ll handle the marketing. They’ll develop the app that will be crucial for running the system the way it’s intended to run. So there are a lot of moving pieces that Via will undertake for High Valley Transit on a contract basis initially. And the service agreement that we entered into, which was an amendment of the master services agreement, governs that process over the next two years and articulates generally the budgets for that service, the insurance levels for that service, and then certainly there are legal issues that govern that relationship.”


The district is budgeting a little under $7 million for its fixed-route service. About $2.5 million will go to a micro-transit service that will offer rides on demand.


Armstrong said with development scattered around the Basin, they have felt for a long time that micro-transit would be appropriate.


He said the service will be more formal than Uber or Lyft.


“Via will control the contracts with the drivers,” he said. “The drivers will be using vehicles that High Valley Transit and Via provides. They’ll be branded High Valley Transit vehicles. They’ll be maintained and inspected and all that good stuff by Via. But the drivers themselves will be able to lease one of those vehicles, to provide the Uber-like service, that on-demand service, within that service area, that’s been identified to do that. It’s one of the more interesting parts of this process, and it’s something that we’ve talked about at the county level for a long time. Because of the way that the county has grown on more of a sprawl basis, historically, it makes it more difficult for fixed-route transit to officially and economically serve the people we would like to serve in the Basin.”


He said they anticipate their funding will come from transit sales taxes approved by the voters, possible grants, and hopefully some of the federal government’s infrastructure financing.


Finally, Armstrong said they’re in talks to work out their separation from Park City Transit.


“I don’t think it’s going to be acrimonious,” he said. “I think that there are issues related to funding. There are issues related to operations. We likely will have some overlap, should have some overlap on, for example, on the White route. So we have to figure out what that looks like, what does operations of that look like, how does funding for that flow. So these are pieces we have to talk about. We have a longstanding history that involves fixed assets. The county is going to need to figure out how to get its portion of those fixed assets, and on what basis and which of those assets are meaningful.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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