Park City’s winter transit service is scheduled to begin on Sunday, November 15th. Services will look and feel a bit different than years past, thanks to COVID-19.
One of the most obvious aspects of daily life that has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been transportation. How people get around town, to and from work, and the system that supports that is an essential component of any city’s services.
The public transit system in Park City and the greater Snyderville Basin has experienced a dramatic decline in riders since the start of the pandemic. The Joint Transportation Advisory Board for Park City and Summit County ultimately decided to reduce winter services by $2 million, which equals a roughly 35% reduction in services.
Most notably, the Main Street trolley and blue bus lines will not be running this winter, and other routes will become less frequent by five to fifteen minutes depending on the route and time of day.
Park City Manager Matt Dias told KPCW the decision to eliminate the trolley and blue lines were because those routes were also serviced by other existing routes. He says public transit is complicated, even in a small town like Park City.
“I mean, obviously, the services that we provide to Old Town in terms of traffic and concession management and parking and transit and drop off load zones and taxis and shuttles, they’re very complicated systems,” said Dias. “The free public transit system is a major component of that. You know, we have scaled back a little bit, by and large, every other route is still in the system, we’ve just played with some of the headways or maybe cut off an hour early or start an hour later. Really done everything we can to preserve services in the downtown core. We do expect a lot of traffic and congestion this winter as we’re experiencing more drive traffic.”
The city is expecting a significant shortfall from sales tax revenue this winter to the tune of roughly $5.4 million. The city’s transit system is funded through sales tax and Dias said they were initially expecting to have to eliminate more routes than just the trolley and blue line.
“Our public transit system is funded primarily through our sales taxes, and our projections were that we were going to lose at minimum two, if not even more, right off the top this year,” he said. “Our goal was to preserve services to the extent possible, serve our business and sort of nodal ski resort areas, continue to serve the neighborhoods, but we had to find cost savings so we looked at ridership utilization, who is riding and when they’re riding and made changes to lessen that impact to the extent possible.”
Phase I of Park City’s winter transit service begins on November 15th, with Phase II scheduled to begin on December 13th.
A link to Park City’s early winter routes and schedules can be found here.