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Gearing up for better commute

Summit County is hoping to expand the five to seven year transportation plan to include a new transit hub at Kimball Junction, more express services on S.R. 224 and a circular bus route within the Kimball Junction area.

The county’s transit program began 10 years ago and has already expanded to become a $2.5 million dollar system.

"I think overall the residents are very satisfied with it, but they do want additional services we are not able to provide yet," Public Works Director Kevin Callahan said at the Aug. 29 County Council meeting.

The centerpiece of the transportation plan is to build a transit hub at Kimball Junction behind the Richins building in order to make the transportation program more efficient.

The hub is estimated to cost $2.1 million. To finance the project, the county hopes to tap into federal money. They applied for it this year but were unsuccessful.

"Once that is in place, we can then reconfigure our routes and have more express service going up and down S.R. 224, which will substantially increase the number of riders," Callahan said.

The express service is planned to be a very direct route and not deviate much from the highway, other than a probable stop near the Canyons.

"A lot of the demand we have, because of the integration between Park City and the Kimball Junction area, is that’s where people want to travel," he told the council. "There is a strong demand for traveling there and if we can provide a service every 20 minutes along that route that’s very efficient, you will increase your ridership very quickly."

They estimate the first year they implement the hub the busses will have 100,000 riders, increasing to 150,000 by 2018.

County transit officials are also planning to begin a circular bus route serving all the businesses within the Kimball Junction area.

"Basically it would allow residents and visitors, once they are on that bus in the area, to not need to use a vehicle. They can access any of those businesses very quickly," he said.

The circular bus route will probably be on a 15-minute schedule and is expected to serve 100,000 riders by 2018.

If the county implements these changes, the ridership among all the services is expected to jump from 600,000 to nearly 1 million.

Callahan also said he would also like to extend the Kimball Junction bus service from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Two services were proposed a couple years ago that the county is looking at again: a service to Kamas and a service to Heber. They will be UTA commuter services and would not be fare free. While users will bear a significant portion of the transit costs, there will likely be a subsidy to help, Callahan said.

"I think what we need to do is continue to assess that and maybe work with some of the employers in this area who have workers coming from there and ask if they are willing to work with us to put this program together. But we certainly need the cooperation of Wasatch County," Callahan said.

But because Summit County is still working out bugs with the Salt Lake City UTA commuter service, they are not planning to propose any additional commuter services for the 2013 budget until those issues are worked out.

Part of the challenge with the UTA system, Callahan said, is that the majority of the ridership using the commuter is coming from Salt Lake City to Park City to work, but the county has not been successful in drawing people who live in Park City and work in Salt Lake City to use the service.

"The service did not integrate into any of the fare programs that UTA had," Callahan said. "If you were a resident down there, you could get a pass that would allow you to use other UTA programs. But we are now working with them to say it does not work as stand alone program."


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