Park City readies dramatic cuts in bus service as ridership remains soft | ParkRecord.com
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Park City readies dramatic cuts in bus service as ridership remains soft

The Old Town transit center on Swede Alley is an anchor of the area’s bus system, offering routes that carry people across the Park City area. Transit officials have proposed sharp reductions in bus service during the upcoming winter as they prepare for the first full ski season amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City transit officials have outlined a proposal to dramatically reduce bus service during the upcoming winter, indicating that projected demand is forecast to drop sharply as the community prepares for the first full ski season amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The information from City Hall regarding proposed reductions in bus service comes in the period after Park City Mountain Resort owner Vail Resorts indicated it would operate a reservation system for the ski season and Sundance Film Festival organizers announced plans for a greatly scaled-back event. Deer Valley Resort has not yet publicized its plans for the ski season.

The proposal to reduce bus service, though, is a clear acknowledgment from the municipal government that it is not expecting anywhere near the size of crowds that normally arrive for the ski season. The proposal includes two route suspensions, reduced hours and reduced frequency. The proposal seeks to reduce overall service by 35% during the ski season.

Officials want to suspend the Main Street trolley as well as the 3 Blue line, which runs through Thaynes Canyon, onto S.R. 224, onto Holiday Ranch Loop Road, through Park Meadows, onto Bonanza Drive and includes Main Street, PCMR and Deer Valley Resort. The 3 Blue line, though, largely overlaps with another route, the 2 Green line, that will remain intact with slightly reduced frequency.

Some of the lines proposed for service reductions include:

• the 4 Orange route, which is proposed to run from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. after operating from 6:30 a.m. until 11 p.m. during the most recent winter.

• the 9 Purple route, which is proposed to run from 6:40 a.m. until 10:40 a.m. and from 2:40 p.m. until 6:40 p.m. after running from 6:40 a.m. until 11:10 p.m. during the most recent winter. Officials say the 9 Purple route could be eliminated when the plans are finalized.

• the 7 Pink line is proposed to be reduced by one hour at night, with service to Silver Springs eliminated.

Frequency reductions are proposed on lines such as 10 White, 2 Green and 1 Red.

The 6 Lime route, meanwhile, traditionally has one of its ends at PCMR but is proposed to extend to Deer Valley for the ski season. Hours would be reduced while frequency would remain at every 15 minutes from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., with 30-minute frequency at other times. The 5 Yellow route would be reduced in frequency but extended to PCMR.

Officials say ridership numbers have suffered an extraordinary fall since the spread of the illness forced an early end to the ski season. There was an initial ridership drop of 90%. The numbers have increased marginally in the summer, but they still represent a 70% drop. At the lowest point, the buses were carrying 900 riders per day. The number has climbed to 1,500 each day in the summer. During a typical summer, approximately 5,000 people would ride the buses each day.

City Hall expects ridership improvements during the ski season will be muted compared to a typical winter. The projection calls for daily ridership ranging from 8,000 to 10,000, well below the approximately 15,000 daily riders typically counted.

Sales taxes generate 80% of the funding for the transit system. Sales taxes are off significantly, meaning there are less funds available for the bus system. The proposed cuts are an acknowledgment of the budgetary constraints as well as the drop in demand.

The municipal government has posted a survey seeking opinions about the proposed changes. The survey is available at: engageparkcity.org/transit. The survey closes on Friday, Sept. 4. The Joint Transit Advisory Board, involving representatives of City Hall and the County Courthouse, is scheduled to discuss the proposal at a meeting scheduled on Sept. 15.


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