Parkite invites the public to take a ride with The Park City App
Bretz wants to make rideshares local and affordable
Zachary Bretz, who moved to Park City from New York via San Francisco in 2020, has experienced a few terrifying ride-share episodes.
“The car was sliding down a hill on bald, all-season tires, which was kind of terrifying,” he said.
His fiancee has also had some setbacks after confirming transportation from Park City to the airport.
“She would order 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. rides, and end up getting ghosted 75% of the time,” he said.
“It’s currently a transportation app that makes it easy to request rides specifically from town to the airport and vice versa,” he said.
But rides to the airport aren’t the only thing the app schedules, according to Bretz.
“There are also a small percentage of requests for rides here in town,” he said. “Those have come about from people who heard about the app for airport transport, and asked if I was available for these other shorter trips.”
Other requests have come from senior citizens, which surprised Bretz.
“They need transport to take them to their medical appointments,” he said. “And in some cases, they need somebody who will wait for them until the appointments are done, as well.”
Bretz’ road to The Park City App started in March.
“I had the hunch that a service like this would be valuable here in town, so I coded together a prototype version of the app for 10 free airport rides and put them on Reddit,” he said. “I figured if I couldn’t give away an airport ride, then it would be time to do something else.”
Clients snapped up those 10 rides in a matter of hours to Bretz’ delight.
“I saw the demand was there and decided to flip and switch to paid rides to see if the demand held, and sure enough, it did,” he said.
Bretz came up with an idea that he wants to use to expand the app’s function while transporting a couple visiting from Brooklyn up to Park City during a heavy snowstorm.
He asked if they had ever skied in Park City or out West and in powder before, and they said no.
“We could barely see the cars in front of us because of the snow, and I asked if they thought about getting skiing lessons to get started on the right foot,” Bretz said. “They said they tried to get lessons, but the lessons were sold out.”
Since Bretz is also a ski instructor at a local resort, he told them he could reserve a ski-school session with them in the morning.
“It was the first private lesson I was able to teach, and we had an awesome day,” he said. “And the resort won, because they booked a lesson with me that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.” After the lesson, Bretz decided to ask a buddy of his, who also teaches skiing, to upload his profile on the prototype.
“I began to see this as a way to build a platform that adds value not (just) to visitors, but to fellow ski instructors,” he said. “We could help visitors, while driving ski lessons to these instructors. And as I think about where the app might go, this is an opportunity to provide local services through a ski school, where visitors can look for specific instructors who are good at teaching how to do moguls, or boarders who can teach how to catch some air.”
Another idea that Bretz wants to work on is a concierge service through the app.
“Two days after meeting the couple from Brooklyn, I drove someone from the airport to Deer Valley past the Montage,” he said. “A few hours later, close to midnight, I got a text and the person asked if I did grocery store runs, because she needed a roll of toilet paper. And I thought the app could be another opportunity for me to connect people with things they need to make their experience in town better.”
While Bretz tosses around these ideas, he is currently focused on the ride-share aspect of The Park City App that utilizes Summit County-based drivers who serve local needs.
“Traditional rideshare works great in big, dense cities, where drivers are in abundance and the weather is less formidable, but in Park City, the low availability of drivers, difficult terrain, especially steep roads like in Summit Park are a challenge,” he said. “You need a serious vehicle and/or a driver who knows how to drive on mountain roads.”
People have told Bretz that drivers from the valley have canceled rides for clients who live in Summit Park, because of the terrain.
“I know we can be better than that,” he said. “So my mantra is local, local, local. We need to attract local drivers, who have experience driving in Park City’s winter terrain, because they live here and have snow tires.”
An added bonus of recruiting local drivers is that they could be people ride-seekers know.
“I want to provide accessible and affordable drivers who may be your ski instructors, your neighbors or somebody who can tell you their favorite restaurants in town,” he said.
Since The Park City App is in its early stages, Bretz plans to expand it incrementally, and he is already working with an additional driver to upload his profile and availability.
“Once we build out the app, it will operate similarly to other rideshare apps where you will be able to track the driver,” he said. “I also want to invest more in the drivers, who usually pay for their gas out of pocket. I want to make it worth their time to be a ride-share driver.”
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