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Park City Transit looks to fully service Richardson Flat park and ride this winter

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Deer Valley Resort is in talks with the city to reserve 50-100 spaces at Richardson Flat for employees, although conversations are ongoing.

Park City's transportation director said the goal is to keep cars out of Park City during peak ski season.

The Park City Council got a first look at the transportation department’s preliminary plan for winter service at its meeting Thursday.

On top of the typical base schedule and routes, the department is proposing more buses that would require $1.6 million in additional funding.

The plan calls for two express bus routes every 15 minutes out of the Richardson Flat park-and-ride, which has 750 parking spaces. Transportation Director Matt Neeley said the goal is to keep cars out of Park City during peak ski season.

Both of the proposed new routes would make additional stops at Park City Heights, Park City High School, and the Old Town Transit Center. The routes differ in that one would exclusively serve Park City Mountain and the other Deer Valley.

$20,000 is budgeted in the plan for services at the Richardson Flat lot, which would include portable restrooms and food trucks.

The recommended plan also calls for increased pick-ups on the Green and Blue bus routes from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes.

That’s not the only proposed change on the table.

Council members unanimously agreed that they want the city to partner with High Valley Transit on a microtransit pilot program.

Microtransit is an on-demand transit service accessed through an app or by phone, similar to Uber and Lyft, but free of charge.

Proposed service areas include Upper Park Meadows, Thaynes Canyon north of Thaynes Canyon Dr., Quinn’s Junction, and Royal Street. The service would replace the Bronze route that ran through Royal Street last winter.

The council voted down a proposal for a 465-space park-and-ride in Quinn’s Junction earlier this year. Councilmember Ryan Dickey said Thursday that the proposed winter plan for Richardson Flat will test demand.

“We’re sort of piloting the feasibility of a park and ride," Dickey said. "If we provide a great park and ride with the right frequency - it’s a success factor for park and rides that we heard - will they ride it?”

Councilmember Max Doilney wanted to see the Quinn’s project get built. He expressed worries about traffic coming out of Park City Heights, which is a neighborhood on the same road as the Richardson Flat lot.

“I have a hard time seeing 700 cars getting parked out into the middle of nowhere and not getting caught in that little two-lane traffic coming out of Park City Heights," Doilney said. "So, we’ll just have to see how this thing all goes.”

Councilmember Jeremy Rubell expressed support for the proposed plan, however, he said he wants to see what the local resorts will contribute first.

“I mean personally, I’m out on spending one and a half million of Park City taxpayer money without significant a resort contribution," Rubell said. "I just think that’s silly and irresponsible spending. So, I’d need that answer before I could voice my support or not support. I think it’s a great idea, I’d love to do it, but what that magic number is, I don’t know.”

Deer Valley Resort is in talks with the city to reserve 50-100 spaces at Richardson Flat for employees, although conversations are ongoing.

Park City Mountain’s plans are currently a work in progress. Park City Economic Development Manager Johnathan Weidenheimer said he’s optimistic the resort will implement a paid reservation system at the Mountain Village base. He also said he expects that they will pay their fair share.

“The resorts that we’ve worked with, they continued to show a willingness to pay their way for the services the city provided last year," Weidenhammer said. "I think that’s a good sign. But again, I think everyone expects continued improvements.”

No public input was taken at the meeting Thursday, however, councilmember Becca Gerber told KPCW a robust public feedback process will take place soon.

“This is really our first presentation of the winter transit plan," Gerber said. "We are going to have several more meetings on it, and for the month of August there’s going to be extensive outreach into the community so that the community can provide input on which of these features they’d like to see.”

The council is on recess through the month of August. The city’s winter parking plan will be discussed when they return for a meeting on September 1.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.