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High Valley’s microtransit hits 100,000 riders 4 months early

The High Valley Transit District's microtransit system hit its ridership goal for the year four months early.
Evelyn Cervantes
High Valley Transit District
The High Valley Transit District's microtransit system hit its ridership goal for the year four months early.

Almost 4 months ahead of schedule, the High Valley Transit District’s microtransit program has surpassed 100,000 riders.

Those black-and-blue minivans shuttling passengers around the Snyderville Basin went into service in May, and by late January, they’d given more than 100,000 rides.

According to a High Valley Transit District staff report, officials set 100,000 rides as the goal for the entire first year of the microtransit program.

The on-demand service is free, as are the other transit options the district offers, including the more traditional full-size buses running on fixed routes. High Valley Executive Director Caroline Rodriguez said the average wait time for a microtransit ride is around 25 minutes.

“Since we've launched, we've had about 250,000 fixed-route rides provided and just under 115,000 micro trips provided. So, quite a bit of service,” Rodriguez said. “And on micro we're getting between 1,300 and 2,000 rides a day. And then on fixed route, 2,000 rides a day.”

The district struggled with a lack of microtransit drivers in early January, leading to many ride requests going unfilled. But the staff report says that improved as the month went on.

For fixed-route service, which requires drivers to have a commercial driver’s license, Rodriguez said the district is still about 10 drivers short.

That led the district tochange the schedule of its main bus line, which runs from Jeremy Ranch to Deer Valley Resort. The advertised frequency dropped from every 15 minutes to every half hour in a bid to increase on-time dependability. The staff report says the district has been able to fill 100% of those driver hours since the change.

As for reducing wait times, Rodriguez said there are other challenges.

“On the micro side, it's not really a matter of more drivers — it's traffic. On the fixed-route side, yes, of course, if we had more drivers, we could put more service on the road. Still, we'd be stuck in traffic,” she said. “We really need to get the bus lanes in so that we can use those to have public transit skirting the single occupancy vehicle traffic that is really what is causing most of our delays.”

Transit vehicles are already allowed to travel in the shoulder lanes on S.R. 224. But Rodriguez said the Utah Department of Transportation is in charge of plowing those lanes, and that agency is struggling with a staffing shortage, as well.

A long-planned bus rapid transit system remains the focal point of the county’s plans to reduce traffic. Rodriguez said that project, which would run on S.R. 224 from Kimball Junction to Old Town, is working its way through the federal environmental clearance process.

Alexander joined KPCW in 2021 after two years reporting on Summit County for The Park Record. While there, he won many awards for covering issues ranging from school curriculum to East Side legacy agriculture operations to land-use disputes. He arrived in Utah by way of Madison, Wisconsin, and western Massachusetts, with stints living in other areas across the country and world. When not attending a public meeting or trying to figure out what a PID is, Alexander enjoys skiing, reading and watching the Celtics.