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Bus Rapid Transit Lanes Move Forward

The Summit County council  Wednesday approved a Resolution  stating that their preferred option for an improvement along the Highway 224 corridor; would be Bus Rapid Transit lanes on both sides of the highway.

The vote just moves a study of 224 to the next step.

One council member, Roger Armstrong, said he’d like to take a step back, and see how they can make the bus system more efficient, and more accessible to riders.

Summit County’s transportation manager Caroline Rodriguez said that two years ago, the Mountain Accord program (now called the Central Wasatch Commission) launched a $400,000 Alternatives Analysis on transit to Park City.

The study looked for the most effective transit option along 224. She explained why “BRT” was picked.

“It was the lowest cost per-rider of all the alternatives, it allows for flexibility for other high-occupancy vehicles to use the dedicated lane." Rodriguez explained, "It builds on the existing electric bus service and it received the most community support, in addition the footprint can be expanded to serve future bus routes and desinations”

Council Member Doug Clyde told KPCW that several options were not endorsed.

"That was a long process that looked at everything from aerial tramways to fixed guideways, all of which were rejected for various reasons, most of them cost." Clyde explained "We simply do not have the population base or ridership base that would support a fix guideway. Those things are tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars per mile, depending on how you do them”

Rodriguez said the Resolution is a critical milestone, though it isn’t a project approval and isn’t providing funding yet.

At this week’s meeting, council-member Roger Armstrong said he had some questions about BRT.

"I’m in support of it because I think part of this process is going to be acquiring the right-of-way necessary to do that, and that will open the door that I believe will as other technologies continue to emerge may make that better." Armstrong continued, "I am concerned about the possible impacts of BRT on non-BRT traffic. Again, that’s why I hope that the efficiency’s work. BRT does not work well in some communities, others have made it work."

Armstrong said he wanted to get a handle on the numbers concerning bus ridership.

"We’ve got Ecker Hill coming online, let’s make sure that we’re not just building things to say we’re building things. We’re building them because people are using them."

KPCW also asked Clyde about ridership.

"There are always some people who believe busses are empty, but we have counts. We know that for example, the express is being very well utilized at this point." Clyde said.

"What Roger is talking about primarily to my understanding is what we refer to as the last mile. That is, how do you get people from the more dispersed residential areas to those bus stops, so they can take the bus into Park City. So they’re not exacerbating traffic problems.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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