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High Valley reports smooth Heber Valley transit launch

The High Valley Transit District's microtransit system hit its ridership goal for the year four months early.
Evelyn Cervantes
High Valley Transit District
High Valley Transit's microtransit system is part of the recent expansion into the Heber Valley.

The first week of public transit in Wasatch County was relatively popular among new riders, according to the director in charge of the new buses.

The newest local bus route, known as the Wasatch Back Connector, gave 148 rides between Heber City and Park City in its first seven days.

High Valley Transit is the provider of the new free public transit option. It sends three buses between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and five from 3 to 8 p.m.

The route picks up at the Fresh Market and hospital in Park City stops at four places along Highway 40 and Heber City Main Street. It began November 13.

High Valley Transit Executive Director Caroline Rodriguez said the launch didn’t bring any major hiccups. She also said she was pleased with the number of riders for the first week and believed the demand could outgrow the 22-passenger buses currently servicing the route.

“The one tweak we might need to make is adding a bigger vehicle if possible,” Rodriguez said. “Other than that, it seems like the timing is working out pretty well, especially with the 8 p.m. bus, because that allows folks that can't make that 5 p.m. bus to have one later bus.”

Other future plans could include extending the hours later into the evening.

“I have already had one request for an even later service, so that might be something we're also looking at if possible,” she said.

High Valley also offers free microtransit shuttles in the Heber area, as it does in Summit County. That service involves three or four Toyota Sienna vans at a given time that give on-demand rides to people who call them using their phones.

In the first week, High Valley gave 108 microtransit rides in the Heber Valley.

High Valley also began offering microtransit in Park City on November 13. Formerly, its Summit County coverage zone excluded the city area.

Rodriguez said there were only eight Park City microtransit rides in the first week, but expected the in-town demand to increase as ski season continues.

High Valley also plans to add a Salt Lake City bus route. At its November meeting, the board of trustees approved a 1-year contract with Snow Country Limo, a local driver service for buses and drivers.

The board replace a route the Utah Transit Authority will change. Since 2007, that bus has delivered passengers between downtown Salt Lake and Kimball Junction. UTA announced it would change its PC-SLC Connect route on December 11, and many who ride that bus regularly said the change could double their commute times.

Rodriguez said as of Friday, final negotiations were still underway, but she hoped to begin the service on December 11.

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