Downtowner ride service bids on Park City contract
Other firms also seek the on-demand transportation deal
Park City received four submittals from firms interested in securing a City Hall contract to provide an on-demand, app-based service that would offer free rides in Old Town and possibly in outlying neighborhoods.
The transportation planning manager at City Hall, Alfred Knotts, said local and national companies filed the submittals. None of the submittals were from services like Uber or Lyft. One of the bids, though, was submitted by a firm called Downtowner App, Inc., Knotts said. Downtowner operates in six cities across the U.S., including the Colorado mountain resort of Aspen, according to the firm’s website. The other cities are in either California or Florida.
Downtowner describes itself as a firm that offers free rides in certain areas of the communities it serves with driver tips appreciated. The Downtowner service appears to largely align with the desires of Park City officials outlined in the document that requested proposals.
Knotts said a selection committee made of City Hall staffers and Caroline Rodriguez, the transportation planning director at the County Courthouse, will review the submittals and assign them rankings. The rankings will be based on criteria like experience with app-based transportation services, analytical capabilities, relevant experience in resort or mountain communities and the marketing plans.
Knotts, though, said staffers have not decided whether they will recommend the hiring of any of the firms or whether to press ahead with an on-demand service. He said he hopes the review of the submittals is completed by the end of the week.
If City Hall opts to proceed with a hiring, Knotts said, a recommendation to the Park City Council is anticipated by the middle of May. A service could start in the summer.
A Downtowner App, Inc. official who answered a Monday call to a corporate phone number said there is interest in operating in Park City but declined further comment, saying public statements would be made later.
The City Hall documentation requesting proposals seeks an on-demand service that would use cars running on electricity, cars that are hybrids or those with zero or low emissions. The documentation describes a base bid involving service along Main Street and surrounding Old Town with other bid options reaching out from Old Town to other neighborhoods in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. Officials want the service to run every day from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. with a starting time of 7:30 a.m. during the ski season. They see a service as a chance to cut traffic and advance Park City’s environmental efforts.
Some Park City taxi and shuttle companies have expressed concern about a service since the documentation requesting proposals was publicized. Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council last week received comments from Michael Falk, the owner of a five-vehicle taxi, shuttle and entertainment company called Karaoke Cab. Falk told the elected officials it is not a good idea to offer a free service. He said traffic on Main Street is bad and that the industry wants to offer suggestions to reduce the congestion. Falk also said a move is underway to form an association representing taxis in Park City.
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Park City leaders recently added a layer of protection to the City Hall-owned Treasure acreage overlooking Old Town. The Park City Council took one in a series of procedural steps that are needed as officials finalize the open space status of the municipal government’s most expensive conservation acquisition.