Local traffic puts employers, employees in a jam
January 9, 2015
In light of the recent traffic snarls that have made navigating Park City’s roads a hectic adventure, many in the business community are feeling the ill effects and are encouraging employees to help clear the congestion by carpooling or taking public transit.
Tommy Bergin, manager at the Main Street’s Flanagan’s, said the pub has been hit hard by the traffic backups in recent weeks, which have made employees late for work on a regular basis. While Flanagan’s has always preached using public transit to its employees, that message is becoming more important.
"The traffic situation is really bad," he said. "Not just in the lack of parking but with people trying to get here. I have a lot of people who come through from Salt Lake, and they’re stuck on (State Road) 224, at the intersection with Kearns (Boulevard). We actually had to redo our schedules to schedule people so they don’t get here with that much traffic."
Flanagan’s has long seen the value in carpooling or riding the bus on busy days — a schedule of the local bus routes is posted in the pub — because that takes up fewer parking spots near Main Street, freeing the space for customers.
"The way we look at it, if we take up five parking spots on China Bridge, that’s five less customers I can potentially have," he said. "The reputation that we’re getting from the Salt Lake people is, ‘We don’t want to go up there because we can’t find parking.’"
Finding alternate methods of travel doesn’t always solve the problem, Bergin said, pointing to a recent Friday night where even workers riding the bus were an hour late.
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"Busses were going right past bus stops because everyone was trying to get on and they were filled up," he said.
Taking busses also presents the difficulty of trying to find a way home, Bergin said. Employees don’t typically get off work until 2 a.m., after the busses have usually shut down.
Park City Transit is trying to help solve that problem by offering bus servicees that leave from Main Street transit center through 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Additionally, Alison Butz of the Historic Park City Alliance, said a free shuttle service is running every 10 minutes through the winter to help get workers to and from Main Street. On Fridays and Saturdays from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., workers can park at Treasure Mountain Junior High on Kearns Boulevard and take a shuttle to Main Street. For the ride back to the school, they can catch the bus, which stops nearby.
"It takes cars off the road," Butz said. "Traffic can get backed up pretty easily, and this hopefully will help with that."
However, there’s one problem: Main Street employees aren’t yet using the service, despite the fact Butz has delivered fliers to most of the businesses in the area.
"Three weeks in operation and there are zero people using it," Butz said. "We need people to ride it. If over the next few weeks, we don’t see people riding it, it may get discontinued. People will still be able to use the lot and use the bus to get to work, but wouldn’t be able to use the shuttles."
Butz hopes employees will turn to the shuttle during Sundance, when lots near Main Street, such as China Bridge, charge a fee for parking.
"Maybe if they use the transit during Sundance, they’ll see the ease of it and use it after, too," she said. "That’s kind of our hope. It would be great if people were taking taxis and shuttles and carpooling together. It takes cars off the road."
Some of the local ski resorts have also identified the need to provide transportation for employees. Deer Valley Resort subsidizes bus tickets for employees coming from Salt lake City and also provides a coach bus for workers in its housing unit in Heber. It runs to the resort twice in the morning and back to Heber twice in the evening.
"That keeps 150 cars off the roads every single day of the ski season," said Kim Mayhew, Deer Valley’s director of human resources. "We pay for that to make sure our staff that have a need for it can commute in a carpooling fashion."