The Park City and Summit County Councils met Wednesday for a long-anticipated discussion on the two parties’ goals for a transit system.
The Park City Council and staff have agreed the transit system, on the city’s end, is stretched to capacity in every way — buses, drivers, administrative staff — so the city doesn’t plan to expand its service anytime soon. Summit County, on the other hand, wants to move toward a regional transit model with better service throughout the county and beyond. Additionally, the county wants more of a role governing the transit system—as a partner, rather than the recipient of a service from the city.
Moving forward, the Summit County Council will consider different models of governance. One option County Councilmember Glenn Wright suggested was a Wasatch Back regional authority, much like the Utah Transit Authority along the Wasatch Front. Wright envisioned a professional organization that runs the transit system with input from county and city governments.
“I believe we can come up with a system where, jointly, we give guidance to the management of a transit system," Wright said. "But the transit system isn't actually physically managed or run by any of us. It's an independent authority.”
But Park City Councilmember Tim Henney worries if Park City is a partner in a regional authority, it would diminish services within city boundaries and take control away from the municipal government.
“I also will not cede land-use authority, on behalf of Park City, to a third party that's going to be able to tell us where we're going to put a transit hub or not put a transit hub,” Henney said.
At a meeting last November between the city, county and Park City School District, the county expressed concern over a transit hub planned for the city’s Bonanza Park Arts and Culture District. Wright said the county wasn’t supportive of the hub as an endpoint for a proposed bus rapid transit route from Kimball Junction to Park City, but Park City Mayor Andy Beerman said the city had always planned to put a transit center in the arts and culture district.
Henney referred to the disagreement as one reason he’s not comfortable moving forward with the county as a full-fledged partner in a transit system.
“It raises the question, in my mind, about if we're going to accomplish something and if we're going to talk about a system that is fair and that does make sense and that does achieve what each entity wants," Henney said. "Are we capable of being partners? I have very significant concerns about that.”
Beerman says the city is willing to collaborate with the county as it considers transitioning to a regional system but wants the county to take the lead on figuring out what that looks like.