Park City opts for electric buses on a lightning-fast route
Park City wants to deploy electric buses on what is expected to be a lightning-fast route along the S.R. 224 corridor.
City Hall in late July was awarded $3.9 million in federal monies that will be put toward acquiring buses for a line between the Old Town transit center and a transit hub close to Kimball Junction.
The Federal Transit Administration will provide the grant money to City Hall. The municipal government intends to work with the County Courthouse, the Utah Department of Transportation and the bus manufacturer, called Proterra. City Hall said in a statement the $3.9 million will assist as six buses are purchased. Park City put up 20 percent of the overall cost as a match for the grant. The city also plans to build charging stations for the buses as part of the grant.
Officials are touting the buses as being important to City Hall’s wide-ranging environmental efforts. The buses run on electricity and generate zero emissions. They will be the first electric buses in the Park City fleet. Ann Ober, the regional policy and energy director for City Hall, said the bus engines run silently, meaning the only noise comes from the tires on the road.
The current fleet features buses that run on biodiesel, itself a cleaner-burning energy.
Ober said Park City desires to replace the entire bus fleet over a 12-year span to vehicles that run on electricity. One benefit to such a fleet, she said, involves the ability to charge the engines with electricity generated through wind or solar sources, further advancing the environmental program.
City Hall said the buses are expected to be operating in the summer of 2018 or sooner. The trip between the two transit hubs, which will be a new line once the hub close to Kimball Junction is completed, is projected to take seven minutes along a rapid-transit route that will be created along the S.R. 224 corridor.
The buses are a part of Park City’s broad environmental program. Officials want to reach what is known as a net-zero level of carbon emissions by the municipal government by 2022 and a net-zero level citywide ten years later. A net-zero level would not eliminate emissions, but would require some sort of offset for any emissions that remain once the environmentally friendly measures are taken.
Park City has long been proud of the transit system, which for decades operated exclusively inside the Park City limits but has since been expanded to the Snyderville Basin. The availability of a fare-free bus system, officials say, reduces traffic and helps the environment.
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Gretchen Milliken started as the Park City planning director at the beginning of February. Like many others in the community, she sees the amount of traffic as a challenge.