Park City readies more free-ride talks | ParkRecord.com

Park City readies more free-ride talks

Five firms seek the City Hall contract

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

City Hall received submittals from five firms wanting to operate a service that would provide free rides covering short distances in Park City, including a company that was on the cusp of winning a contract for a similar service in July before officials instead opted to tinker with the operational details and then advertise again for a company.

The firms are:

  • Downtowner, App, Inc.
  • Mountain Transportation Network
  • Ride-PC
  • Slidr
  • Elevated Transit

    Alfred Knotts, the transportation planning manager at City Hall, said Mountain Transportation Network and Ride-PC have business addresses in the Park City area. Elevated Transit is based in West Jordan, Slidr is based in Boca Raton, Fla., and Downtowner App, Inc. is based in Delray Beach, Fla.

    Three of the firms – Downtowner App, Inc., Ride-PC and Elevated Transit – sought the earlier contract. The Park City Council in July appeared poised to award a $358,727 contract to Downtowner App., Inc. but declined to do so based on concerns about the nature of the service and ordered the posting of another request for proposals outlining modified operations.

    Knotts said a committee of City Hall and County Courthouse staffers plan to review the submittals. A contract is tentatively scheduled to be put before the City Council for approval or rejection at a meeting on Aug. 31. If a contract is rejected, it would be too late in the year to again seek a firm, hire one and have the service started by the ski season, Knotts said.

    The service, known as microtransit, is designed to complement the fare-free buses in the Park City area and would be part of the overall efforts to combat traffic. City Hall has divided Park City into six zones for the service and rides must begin and end within the same zone. Trips also must begin or end at a bus stop. The restrictions are meant to ensure the service works as designed by, essentially, acting as an extension of the bus service. Hours would run from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. with a slightly earlier starting time during the ski season.

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    The initial term of a contract would run between six months and one year starting on or about Dec. 1. There would be an option to extend the deal for up to three years.

    There has been deep-rooted concern from Park City-area taxi and transportation companies about the hiring of a firm. There are fears the service could siphon away business from the companies as people opt for free rides instead of paid ones offered by taxis and shuttles. The rewritten details of the request for proposals, which included the requirement that rides must begin or end at a bus stop, were drafted in response to some of the concerns of the taxis and shuttles. There has been opposition since the details were altered nonetheless.

    The owner of Mountain Transportation Network, Sam Rubin, said in an interview his proposal involves a dollar figure lower than the $358,727 previously considered by City Hall for a contract with Downtowner App, Inc. He said the proposal involves a fleet of four Tesla vehicles powered by electricity. Rubin said the firm would break even financially if it wins the City Hall contract.

    Rubin was critical of the earlier prospects of a deal between the municipal government and Downtowner App, Inc. based on pricing and the firm's location outside of Park City. Mountain Transportation Network did not submit a proposal during the earlier round. Rubin acknowledged he was previously skeptical that a microtransit system would be successful in Park City. He has since seen the popularity of an electric bike share program in the area that is another traffic-fighting step taken by leaders.

    "It's my way of giving back to the community," Rubin said about his interest in winning the contract, adding, "This is what I can give to that mix."

    Rubin said people in Park City would be more interested in riding buses if they could more easily reach a stop, the type of service a microtransit system is designed to provide. He said Mountain Transportation Network customers and the broader Park City public desire such a system.

    "This is something they wanted," he said. "I think the public really has spoken."