Park City-High Valley Transit Split Becomes Official on July 1
On July 1, transportation in Summit County will fundamentally change as Park City Transit will focus on routes in the city and the newly established High Valley Transit authority will handle routes in the county.
But Park City Councilor Tim Henney says what the future brings is two transit districts working as partners.
In a Coffee With Council held on Tuesday, Henney was joined by Summit County Councilor Roger Armstrong, who’s also on the High Valley board; and High Valley’s General Manager Caroline Rodriguez.
Henney said it may seem that the High Valley district was established quickly, but the discussions about changing the interlocal agreement between the city and county go back some years.
“I think this is a tremendous step forward and a positive step for regional transit, creating two transit districts that then can focus their resources and their energy on their specific needs, which are quite different, and then broaden out in the future as need and desire and funding becomes available,” he said.
Armstrong said when Park City was contracted to service transit in the Basin, the city had the expertise and equipment and the population was concentrated there. Since then, he noted, population growth has shifted to the Basin and workers commuting into the county have created other traffic demands.
Population growth in the Basin has occurred in scattered neighborhoods. Armstrong said that’s one reason they launched the micro-transit service about two weeks ago.
Armstrong said he believes the service can link effectively to larger buses on fixed routes.
“I’ve heard some speculation toward some of this routing that making people make a few changes on a bus is never going to work,” he said. “And I would agree with that where we have long headways. If you’re operating on 20 or 30-minute headways for every line, and people have to make a change and they have to wait 15 minutes for a bus and make another change and wait 15 minutes for a bus or leave the game. But if you can tighten up those headways, and if you can make those wait times far less than that, then I think that people are more than willing to step in A to B, one to another, if they can kind of continue their trip.”
A previous, similar proposal by Park City ran into criticism that it would compete unfairly with private taxi services. But Rodriguez told Henney that they haven’t encountered blowback.
“Perhaps there was a miscommunication in the way micro-transit was previously presented, because it’s not necessarily in direct competition with taxi service,” Rodriguez said. “For example, with the 811 rides that we’ve provided so far, the average distance to walk to your pickup is 81 feet. So that is not a taxi service that’s coming to pick me up at my door. That’s more of a public transit service. Again, you’re absolutely correct that it’s meant to connect to the fixed-route service, and that we estimate that 90% of the ridership will be on the fixed-route service. And this is meant as that first and last-mile connection.”
The group took a few questions from citizens. Rodriguez said that an adult passenger with a one-year-old would need to bring a car seat on a micro-transit trip. She also said that the micro-transit service will be safe for youngsters riding by themselves. She said that the vehicles have security cameras, and background checks are conducted on the drivers.
On another item, she said that the micro-transit doesn’t serve areas within Park City boundaries except for Quinn’s Junction.
And the attendees, including City Transportation Outreach Coordinator Andy Stevenson, discussed what apps are available to plan your trips and destination time, for both the Park City and High Valley systems.