Some Park City bus drivers will have a short commute starting later in the month.
The Public Works Department as early as the end of December will open a new building with housing for 13 bus drivers, a project that officials see as being an important recruitment tool. The Short Line Drive site is outside the Public Works Building. A ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Park City leaders, Summit County officials and a Federal Transit Administration official was held on Friday.
The new building offers 13 small studio-style units, approximately 260 square feet each. It is three stories tall. The ground floor has a handicapped-accessible unit and the building's garage. The upper two floors house the other residential units. There are common areas on the second and third stories offering couches and a washer and dryer.
Each unit has a bathroom, a kitchen, a bed, a tables and chairs and a television. They are carpeted.
"It's a great benefit for the city in our recruiting and retaining drivers. Park City's a tough place to get housing, particularly in the wintertime," said Brooks Robinson, who is the senior transportation planner for Park City and was heavily involved in the project.
The building offers a rooftop deck. Some of the electricity used in the building will be generated by solar panels on the roof.
The bus drivers will pay less than $500 in rent per month, Robinson said. Leases will be for six months. The 13 bus drivers who will move in first will be shifted from living quarters in a building on Park Avenue that once housed a fire station. Bus drivers have been housed in the former fire station since 2009, according to the municipal government. The Public Works Department employs upward of 100 transit people on a seasonal basis during the winter. There are also 54 year-round bus drivers.
"The Ironhorse Seasonal Transit Housing project will help Park City recruit and retain experienced seasonal bus drivers. Affordable housing has traditionally been challenging for seasonal employees and makes recruiting efforts significantly more difficult," City Hall said in a statement about the building.
The facility cost approximately $1.8 million. The Federal Transit Administration funded $1.5 million of the cost. The municipal government provided the land as its match and spent another $300,000 on finishing work.
The ribbon cutting on Friday drew a crowd heavy with Park City officials, including Mayor Dana Williams, members of the Park City Council and staffers. In his remarks, Williams spoke about the growth of the transit system and said businesses market Park City as a place someone does not need to have a vehicle. Linda Gehrke, a Federal Transit Administration official, said in her remarks the facility will help ensure a dependable work force for the bus system.
The officials briefly toured the property, walking through where the drivers will be housed. In one of the units they saw, the bed was made, a ceiling fan was installed and a flat-screen television was hanging on the wall.