The first report regarding the Wasatch County Transit Study has been completed. Below are some the report’s findings and the roadmap for a bus system to possibly come to Wasatch County next year.
Shawn Seager is the director of planning with the Mountainlands Association of Governments. The association is a regional planner for Summit, Utah and Wasatch counties. The association is also taking the lead on the Wasatch Transit study. Seager says LSC, the consulting firm hired for the study, has posted their existing conditions report on the study’s website.
“Some of the content of that piece of the study is the survey of residents that took place,” Seager said. “Some of the results of the visioning workshop, and then some of the initial commuter travel patterns from Wasatch County.”
60% of survey respondents lived in Heber City while 20% live in Midway. Nearly 70% stated they would use public transit to reach areas within Wasatch County.
Key findings included 86% of respondents saying they would use public transportation to reach destinations in Summit County, 59% would use a transit system to access Salt Lake County and 51% would use it to reach Utah County. The majority of those respondents stated they would use public transportation for work, recreation and shopping trips outside the county.
Additionally, the survey had a comment section, where there are plenty of pleas for the service and also respondents who do not want to see local government entities offering a taxpayer funded bus system.
In addition to the survey a stakeholder meeting was held.
“That room was filled with 35-40 people,” Seager continued. “Massive turnout for Wasatch County I was really impressed with the type of people we had at that stakeholder committee meeting. I think there's a lot of interest that people have in answering the question. Now whether or not we actually run service or not is yet to be determined but I think there's a lot of people that are saying is it time for Wasatch County to consider transit service? We have the whole resort specially planned area at Mayflower the RSPA area with Mida, Extell, the backside of Deer Valley, all the developments taking place there. Then the Sorenson development that's on the east bench of Heber and so there's a lot of development taking place. I think people we're starting to ask ourselves is it time to make a transit investment. I don't think that they are there yet, but they want to study it. Understand the issues, understand what the cost might be.”
In addition, the report conducted stakeholder interviews with a variety of representatives including MIDA officials, Intermountain Healthcare, Wasatch County Senior Services, The Latino community in Wasatch County and the Disabled community in Wasatch County among others.
Seager explains what’s next for the study.
“Look at potential routes that could be developed,” Seager explained. “Ridership forecasts of what those routes might generate in terms of boarding's and people riding those routes. Travel times, what that might look like from Wasatch County to Park City to Salt Lake or to Provo and Orem area. Then also potential cost scenarios of those systems of those transit lines and then potential revenue sources as well. Where would that revenue come from? We hope to have this piece of the work done by January of 2020. Have a report produced and delivered to the elected officials that outlines a transit demand from Wasatch County. Where it wants to go, what some potential costs are with those different routes, and then maybe some of the revenue sources would be too. So, it's on a fairly fast timeline.”
If the study shows demand and local agencies move forward with providing transit Seager says service could begin as soon as summer of 2020, but more likely fall or winter of 2020.