Parkites all over the map in wishes for bus routes
Jennifer Gardner lives in Park Meadows and mostly rides the Park City bus system during the Sundance Film Festival, a time when traffic is normally terrible and parking is tight throughout the city.
But Gardner would be apt to ride the bus more often if it was convenient. Bus routes deeper into Park Meadows would be welcome, she said in an interview Wednesday night during an open house focused on transit in the Park City area. Gardner said she would take a bus as she heads to ski or to Main Street if a route was available. A bus stop at the intersection of Meadows Drive and Sunny Slopes Drive would be nice, she said.
"We take two cars to ski because we ski at different times," Gardner said about herself and her husband, adding, "Their timeline is slower than our desire."
Gardner also said she would like the transit system to employ smaller buses and design routes with greater frequency. The size of the buses has long been questioned as people see them driving nearly empty at certain points of the year. Officials say the larger buses are needed for the larger crowds during the ski season.
The open house, held at the Park City Library and Education Center, drew a little more than 40 people to learn about the future of the bus system over the next five to 10 years and provide opinions. The fare-free bus system, long heralded by leaders as a service that cuts traffic and provides environmental benefits, stretches from Park City through the Snyderville Basin. It is anchored at the Old Town transit center with routes into neighborhoods, the mountain resorts and commercial nodes throughout the West Side of Summit County. Another route links the area to Salt Lake City.
Amid the successes, City Hall continues to see transit and the wider subject of transportation as being critical to Park City’s future. There have been widespread complaints about traffic in Park City and the Snyderville Basin as the area has enjoyed a strong exit from the recession. The transit system is the area’s crucial tool as leaders combat traffic.
The bus system serves residents with the routes into the neighborhoods, but it also is designed to carry large numbers of visitors on routes that stop at the mountain resorts and Main Street.
The open house at the Library and Education Center was one of three held this week in Park City and the Snyderville Basin. Officials scheduled the events as they consider new routes, modifying existing ones or increasing the frequency of buses on some routes.
The event on Wednesday drew at least one member of the Park City Council, at least two City Council candidates and at least two members of the Park City Planning Commission. There appeared to be people from across Park City as well as from different age groups.
"We want to balance tourism and local needs," Ken Hosen, a City Hall-hired consultant, told the crowd.
Hosen led a discussion that touched on routes, bus stop locations and the seasonal changes in the transit system. The people in attendance broached numerous topics as they asked questions. Some mentioned streets where they want a bus route or increased service. One person identified American Saddler Drive while another one wanted routes in Summit Park and Silver Creek. Someone else said shelters and benches should be installed at every stop. One of the attendees said the seasonal service to Silver Lake Village and Empire Pass could be extended by a month at the start and a month at the end of the season.
Another person asked about bringing dogs onto the buses. Blake Fonnesbeck, the director of transit and public works for the municipal government, said City Hall could be liable if a dog bit someone on a bus.
"Some dogs are well trained and others are not," he said.
Other people mentioned service to Salt Lake City International Airport, earlier buses to Kimball Junction designed for the work force and the effectiveness of the Main Street trolley as a transit option. Fonnesbeck countered that the trolley’s popularity makes it valuable.
The organizers posted large maps of the area and provided stickers that the attendees affixed to the maps showing where they would like bus routes. The Old Town section of the map was clogged with stickers denoting a desired destination for a route. The stickers denoting a desired route origin were spread through the map, including a concentration in Prospector. There were also origin and destination stickers placed at or close to Quinn’s Junction.
In an interview afterward, the consultant said he heard lots of interest in a bus route to Heber. People also spoke about the possibility of an express route along S.R. 248, Hosen said. He said the challenge will be to design routes that do not "blow the cost through the roof." Hosen anticipates a draft plan will be ready in March.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.