Transit Use Increased During Sundance, But Old Town Still Feels Traffic Squeeze

Jun 3, 2019

Traffic on Bonanza during Sundance
Credit KPCW Radio

Analysis of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival shows a 10% increase in transit ridership from the previous year—yet Park City residents still had concerns about traffic. 

Hillside Ave. resident Peter Marth says he’s been to every Sundance Film Festival. He supports the event and wants it to stay in Park City, but Marth says Lyft and Uber drivers make traffic in residential areas unbearable, as they try to avoid congestion on Main Street and on the city’s large transportation corridors.

“If you stop the circulation in our residential neighborhoods, it's not going to have any impact on the festival whatsoever—in terms of economics, in terms of cultural diversity, in terms of the success of Main Street," Marth said. "It's just going to bring a little pain to people who keep wanting to get in their cars and drive around Old Town.”

The Sundance debrief staff report shows communications from different members of the public expressing similar sentiments about neighborhood traffic and the role transportation network companies, such as Lyft and Uber, play in it. The main complaint is that rideshare drivers follow their navigation systems into neighborhoods to avoid traffic, disregarding signage that neighborhood streets are closed to through traffic.

Jeremy Neigher, Lyft’s Utah market manager, says there’s a demand to use Lyft wherever people are, but drivers received education about Hillside Ave. traffic during the festival. Neigher also says if certain roads are closed on their GPS navigation, drivers must obey those closures.

"We're utilizing mapping technology just like anybody else, and so if it was a personal vehicle or if it's Lyft, it's going to be relying on typical navigation," Neigher said. "So if road closures are stated and reported, let's use an example, to Google Maps or Waze, which is still Google as well, then in the navigation system, those areas would be closed."

Park City Special Events Manager Jenny Diersen says Park City police educated Lyft and Uber drivers about neighborhood traffic and other safety information, and there was a designated Lyft pickup on lower Main Street. But the City can’t truly close roads to traffic because it’s difficult to differentiate between rideshare services, residents and those trying to access ski resorts.

“The one thing that I would take away from this year is that, on a staff level, we can look into how we can do a better job at coordinating with apps like Google and Waze, to see how we can further deter traffic through those residential areas,” Diersen said.

The Sundance Institute partners with Lyft as its official rideshare service for the festival.