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Park City Mountain leaders say new parking system "is working"

Park City traffic near resort base on Friday, 12.31.22.jpeg
KPCW
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While resort operators acknowledge traffic will still back up during peak times, like this line of cars on New Year's Eve, 2022, they say overall the new parking system has improved traffic flow around the resort.

Park City Mountain's Mike Lewis says traffic moves better and fewer cars cut through neighborhoods with the new paid parking system.

Park City Mountain Resort implemented a paid parking reservation system for the 2022-2023 ski season. It is the first time the resort has required parking reservations at Park Mountain Village. Parking costs $25 a day on surface lots and $40 a day in the parking garage. Cars with four or more occupants park for free, but still need to reserve a spot.

Mike Lewis, senior director of base operations at Park City Mountain, said the resort wanted to eliminate the first-come-first-served parking rush that clogs city streets early in the day. Because the reservation system guarantees spots for driver, he explained, it spreads traffic out throughout the morning.

Lewis added that people who don’t have reservations avoid driving to the base, and go straight to the park-and-ride lots, like Park City High School’s parking lot, where there is a free shuttle on weekends and holidays.

“Last year at this time, during the holidays, we were filling our lots between 8:30 and 9:30 (a.m.). And then all those cars would rush to the high school and that’s where we were seeing long lines,” said Lewis. “So with that certainty we’re seeing people know they don’t have a reservation so we’re seeing a spread of arrival at the high school and the base area which means the high school experience is going really well. There haven’t been any lines at the high school this entire time and we’ve seen a similar number of vehicles.”

Lewis added that High Valley Transit officials told him they have seen a 20% increase in ridership on the same routes they had last year. And fewer drivers detour through residential areas.

“We also anticipated this would help some of the neighborhood cut-through,” said Lewis. “We have been working really closely with the city on this whole thing, and they have confirmed there has been a reduction in overflow and cut-through in the neighborhoods around the base area, which is another outcome we were looking for.”

Rob Slettom is a board member of Thaynes Canyon Homeowners Association 1, which covers Thaynes Canyon Drive and Payday Drive, which are main traffic detour areas. He calls Park City Mountain’s new parking system a “great” improvement.

“It’s easier to get to the resort and I think the paid parking is working. People are not arriving all at the same time,” said Slettom. “Here we are in one of the busiest weeks of the year, traffic seems under control, actually not very much traffic at all. So I believe what Park City Resort is doing is working.”

Lewis said there’s no getting rid of traffic completely, especially during the holidays and powder days, but even those busy times have improved.

“The traffic flow pattern we put together in partnership with the city keeps vehicles moving,” he said. “So we’re not seeing that situation where everything just totally locks up and it’s a standstill. And so it’s a slow and steady flow, which overall is a better experience than just being stopped for a significant period of time.”

Brian Van Hecke has a home on Empire Avenue, which is just east of the main parking lot at Park City Mountain Village. He said the resort can’t claim credit for smoother traffic, especially when there are fewer visitors in town. The Park City Chamber of Commerce reports lodging numbers are down 20%. Van Hecke also questioned Lewis’ claim that the new parking and reservation system has improved traffic in Park City.

“By no means is the resort traffic flow in my mind any better than it was last year,” said Van Hecke. “It actually seems like it’s worse even though the resort is far less busy and the lift lines are nowhere like what they were last year.”

Deb Rentfrow also lives on Empire Avenue. She acknowledged that while the resort is “making an effort” on transit circulation, she felt there is not enough focus on pedestrian safety. She said she has emailed resort leadership about her concerns.

“Crosswalks are often blocked by either vehicles in the transit area or else vehicles that are in the main lot using the drop off and it is quite dangerous for people to get across Lowell to the resort,” she said. Rentfrow also noted there aren’t adequate pedestrian crossings at 14th and 15th streets.

Some customers expressed concern to KPCW about getting a $125 fine if they don’t cancel their reservation by 4 p.m. the day before, and worried the resort would “blacklist” them if they cancelled. Lewis said that is not the case, and encouraged people to let the resort know if they are not coming.

“There’s no recourse for changing a reservation. We cancel it, open it up. And you can go to the parking website, park@parkcitymountain.com and submit a note if you do need to cancel outside of that 4pm window,” explained Lewis. “And we’ll handle those on a one-off basis. Yeah, we do want people to cancel, because we don’t want no-shows.”

Park City Mountain Resort did not implement paid parking at Canyons Village. Parking at the Cabriolet lot is still free. For more information on Park City Mountain’s paid parking rules, go to parkatparkcitymountain.com.

Renai Bodley Miller became General Manager of KPCW in June, 2017. Previously, she was a reporter at KPCW. Renai is a 25 year veteran of the television news business. She was a news producer in Roanoke, VA, Richmond, VA, Miami, FL, and Washington, DC before moving to Utah in 1996 to be the Executive Producer at KSTU Fox 13. In 1999, she was promoted to Vice President/News Director. Under Renai’s tenure, Fox 13 expanded its news coverage from 2.5 hours to 10 hours of news a day. She retired in July, 2015, to enjoy her new home in Park City; but she couldn’t stay out of a newsroom for long. Less than a month later she signed on with KPCW as a reporter, and less than two years later she was promoted to General Manager when Larry Warren retired.
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