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Wasatch County

Residents, government officials seek path forward for public transit expansion into Wasatch County

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Ben Lasseter
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KPCW
Attendees at Tuesday's Wasatch County transit open house discuss data about a bus route from Heber City to Park City displayed on a poster.

Wasatch County hosted an open house Tuesday for residents interested in the potential expansion of High Valley Transit into the Heber Valley.

The crowd at the Wasatch County Senior Center included dozens of county government officials, High Valley Transit representatives and residents. Conversations focused on a proposed bus route between Heber City and Park City and microtransit.

Residents asked questions about how the on-demand microtransit shuttles operate in Summit County. They also asked how much the county using sales taxes to pay for public transportation would cost taxpayers.

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Credit Wasatch County
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A poster full of charts at the open house displayed information about funding public transit with sales taxes.

The county is considering levying sales taxes in the amount of half a percent up to 1.25%, which wouldn’t apply to gas or groceries. A half-percent sales tax would charge an extra penny for every $2 spent and could fund a bus route to Park City operating on the half hour.

“Of course, I would be a user,” said Dalia Gonzalez, People’s Health Clinic director of operations and Heber City resident about a bus to Park City. “It would add a little bit more time to my commute, but hey, I could connect to my laptop and do work on some emails. It would be awesome, so I am so totally for it.”

She was even more enthusiastic about providing rides to the hundreds of Wasatch County patients the clinic serves. As of January, a third of the People’s Health Clinic’s patients were Wasatch County residents.

“There are barriers currently for our patients from Wasatch County that are uninsured to make it to Park City,” she said. “This would be so tremendous for them to be able to make it with public transportation over there.”

Some of those patients make the trip to Park City as often as every week.

She said some patients would benefit from even more inter-county public transportation in the future. Patients who are pregnant, for example, sometimes need to travel regularly to Utah County or Salt Lake City for specialized care.

A majority of the Wasatch County Council members attended the open house. They asked questions of residents, saying they’re still gauging how popular the bus and microtransit would be and whether it’s worth levying a new sales tax.

High Valley Transit Board Chair Kim Carson said she felt confident the county would make some level of transit available and possibly expand that service in the years to come.

“It would, of course, just depend on the model that they use, what the coverage was,” Carson said. “That will be most likely centered initially about the Heber City area, and then it can expand to other areas as they grow and get more funding.”

She also said Hideout residents told her they would benefit from public transportation. They were especially interested in how microtransit would work, which the county has said might be especially effective there.

The county council is expected to vote on a sales tax that would partially fund public transit in 2023 at its meeting next Wednesday.

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Credit Wasatch County
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A poster at the open house displayed a proposal for a High Valley Transit bus route from Heber City to Park City with stops along the way.
MicroTrans.jpg
Credit Wasatch County
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The open house displayed information about where on-demand microtransit shuttles would operate in Wasatch County if High Valley Transit expands service into the Heber Valley and Jordanelle area.

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