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Micro Transit Launches This Week In Basin

High Valley Transit logo
High Valley Transit

The High Valley Transit District is launching its micro-transit service  as of Monday.   

Two Summit County Council Members who also sit on the High Valley Board say they’re excited by this new initiative to get people out of their individual cars.   

The micro-transit service allows residents to call for a ride.    While that might sound like Uber, County Council Member Doug Clyde said one difference is it’s a free element of public transit.      

“Micro-transit will not always get you to your final destination.   Micro-transit, for example, may bring you to the Transit Center over in Kimball Junction, depending on where you originate, or they may take you directly to your destination.  Just depends on where you’re going.”

Council Member Roger Armstrong said they’re hoping that each micro-transit call will be carrying multiple passengers.       

“It’s the same as the Circulators that we have, where people step on and step off.  It’s just one tooth in that overall cog that we have of transit.  So we’ve made the bet that this is a more efficient way to run transit.  And we’re gonna give it a try and see if it works.”

Clyde said it’s a flexible service for low-density areas in the Basin.   He said it’s not eliminating transit to some subdivision areas.   It’s replacing the previous service.

Armstrong added that the traditional fixed-route service can have large buses with few riders.    

“We could continue with the old way, where we’re paying more money for a 45-person bus to circulate through a neighborhood, largely empty with two or three people on it, and say that’s a more traditional look at it, and less people will ride it because it’s not convenient.  The bus comes every 20 or 30 minutes and it’s much easier to jump in a car and go.   Or we can do this and get people used to the transit system, and make it easier for them to access for those longer rides into Park City or out to Woodward or wherever it is that they may be going.”

Clyde said that High Valley’s contracted firm, Via, has implemented micro-transit in other areas of the country.   The firm has made effective use of an app.       

“They have a great app that goes along with it, by which you can essentially identify where you would like to be picked up.   They will tell you then where the nearest location is that they will stop.  They’ll give you an estimated time, and you’ll be able to actually watch the vehicle on the app as it approaches you.”

Armstrong said the response time for micro-transit will be within 15 minutes, the vast majority of the time, though that can expand during high-capacity events, such as the Fourth of July.

He said the success of the service will depend on one factor.

“I’ve always said that transit is about psychology.  If Leslie Thatcher knows that by the time she gets her keys, gets in her car, drives to a destination, finds a place to park and enters whatever her ultimate destination is, if that takes her 15 minutes, and it takes her 40 minutes or 45 minutes to do it by car in a community of this size, Leslie’s gonna choose her car.  And if we cannot close that gap, and make it easier and more frequent and more convenient, then people are going to continue to drive.”

Summit County Council Members Roger Armstrong and Doug Clyde.

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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