New shelters will warm Basin bus commuters
Soon bus commuters can step out of icy slush, wind and away from traffic into one of eight new bus shelters in western Summit County.
"We have little historical stories that go in each of the bus shelters about something that was in the vicinity," Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott said. "People can sit in the bus shelters and read something about the history of the area as it snows in the winter, and it’s just nice to be out of the weather."
With the influx of people into Park City to ski, public transportation in the winter becomes critical for travelers and resort employees, she explained.
"We have many, many, many more people who use our transportation system in the winter when the weather is likely to be bad," Elliott said. "So it’s nice to encourage people to use public transportation by making it safe and convenient."
Requests from senior citizens have been for a new shelter planned at Redstone Town Center, Elliott said.
"We’re trying to make them in locations where people are most likely to try and catch a bus," Elliott said. "We’re trying to shovel out the approaches and keep the sidewalk clean. Last winter we had many, many people standing out of the side of 224 in all kids of weather and there were lots of fears that they would be harmed in some way by the traffic."
The shelters are crucial for maintaining riders, Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said.
"You need to have safe, convenient places for people to wait for the bus," he said. "You’re asking a lot of people to stand out there in the cold and the wind waiting for the bus."
Summit County is installing covered metal and Plexiglas shelters at bus stops on Ute Boulevard, near Whole Foods Market at Redstone and at Quarry Village in Pinebrook.
"We also put a couple in on (State Road) 224 that we think are going to be very popular," Callahan said about new shelters near The Canyons and Blue Roof Market.
Except near Taco Bell and at the Sheldon Richins Buildings, new bus shelters at Kimball Junction should be finished in November, he said.
"We’ve been talking to The Canyons about putting one in at the Grand Summit," Callahan said in a telephone interview. "We’re trying to saturate the area and make it as convenient as possible for people to ride the bus system."
The number of passengers who ride the free buses jumps nearly 15 percent each year, Callahan said.
"I haven’t looked at the numbers to see if, when gas prices rise, ridership begins to increase," Callahan said. "Our goal is to continue to expand and key to maintaining and enhancing ridership is having the right kind of facilities."
A transportation hub similar to the Old Town transit center could be built at Kimball Junction within two years, he said.
"We would be looking at being able to handle probably nine buses," Callahan said. "It would be the center for the Basin of all transit activity."
Meanwhile, with sales tax revenue in Summit County expected to decrease in 2009, funding for buses next year is still available.
"It’s sales-tax dependent and federal-funding dependent," Callahan said.
The steady increase in the number of bus passengers in Basin is "phenomenal," Elliott said.
"It has exceeded all of our five-year projections," she added.
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Court report: Week of June 22