May 17, 2016
Tom Clyde brings up great points in his recent column on the new Kimball Junction Transit Center. The transit system seems prone to add expensive features without really knowing what it wants to be. Is it a shuttle system for visitors, or a commuting system for residents? At the moment it is trying to be both but not serving either group very well.
You can understand its split personality by looking at the routes. It is easy to tell them apart: If a stop on your route has another stop across the street going in the opposite direction, it’s an out-and-back route. If not, it’s a loop route. A quick look shows that loop routes predominates in the PC transit system. Look at the SLC system, for example, and you will see that out-and-back routes are the rule.
Loop routes are better for visitors. They cover more area but have longer ride times, because regardless of the actual distance to your destination, you have to ride the whole loop to get there and back. This works for visitors because it can reach all of them, and they aren’t sensitive to ride times because they would rather not drive in a strange place and they are out of here in a few days.
Out-and-back routes are favored by commuters for their shorter ride times, because there is always a bus going back the way it came. But the routes cover less territory, and you have to have more of them to serve everyone. If I live in Park Meadows, for example, I could get to the library by riding 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back, rather than 40 minutes out and 10 minutes back in the current scheme. (I should really be walking, of course, but perhaps it is snowing or I am on crutches.)
Other than visitors, who rides Park City Transit? Latinos, students, and the occasional senior. The people reading this, not so much — they don’t have the time. Park City tourism marketers are quite right to advise visitors to ditch the automobile and ride the bus, but in the interest of full disclosure they should point out that we don’t actually ride it ourselves. It’s not designed for that.
So, how does the new Kimball transit center fit in? With multiple routes converging and modest parking, it would seem to be a hub facility in a commuting system. But we don’t have a commuting system, we mainly have a visitor shuttle. What are we thinking? Shouldn’t we decide which system we want and optimize for that?
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