Commuter services desired in Kamas Valley
All Paula Carroll wants for Christmas is an expanded bus system that serves Kamas Valley residents like herself.
While Carroll said she knows a bus route into the Kamas Valley is highly unlikely before Christmas, she is optimistic after hearing conversations at the transit open house Monday night. Park City and Summit County jointly hosted the meeting as part of an ongoing series of brainstorming sessions.
"I’m excited. Tonight has me pretty psyched that they are working on it to finally come here and hit our cute little town," Carroll said.
Carroll commutes to Park City every morning from her home in Kamas and says traffic is a "beast" along State Road 248, adding that parking on Main Street is like a competitive sport.
"I’ve worked in Park City for 22 years and I work on Main Street. It would just be nice to leave my car here and catch a bus so that I could ride it in," Carroll said. "There would be so much less congestion. Parking is an issue and it’s mostly an issue for the workers that keep Park City going."
Nearly 30 people, including Kamas Mayor Lew Marchant, attended the open house at South Summit Middle School. Caroline Ferris, Summit County regional transportation planning director, and Darren Davis, Park City transit administrator, also attended. It was the first of four meetings held on the East Side. Ken Hosen, a KFH Group consultant, conducted the meeting.
Hosen specifically asked attendees about work schedules, shopping and medical needs. He explored the concepts of fixed schedules, dial-a-ride, vanpools and their willingness to pay a fare, which most attendees said they would support.
"There are different things we can explore. Maybe there is enough demand to justify a smaller bus route, but timing and alignment is very important," Hosen said. "Before a brand new service would be implemented you really have to fine tune it as you go along. As part of this plan, we will be able to show how much some of these different options would cost.
"But it is a dangerous game going from a fare-free system to charging riders," he cautioned, referring to Park City’s public transit system.
As city and county staff continue to craft a short-range transit plan to cover the next five to 10 years, officials have sought input from residents to understand their needs concerning transit.
"The feedback tonight is exactly what we had anticipated. We just wanted to get some feedback on what their needs are and the things I heard were commuter services and the need for some kind of link between here, Park City and even Kimball Junction," Davis said.
Ferris said the "interest is there" on the East Side, but it’s "just a matter of getting the word out."
"We just need to let people know that they can rely on the service to be there when they need it," Ferris said.
Transportation issues are front and center on both Park City and Summit County’s agendas as officials explore solutions to mitigate traffic congestion along the city’s major arteries and encourage transit use.
The current transit system is a fare-free system anchored in Park City. It operates through a cost-sharing agreement between the county and city for the routes throughout the city and into parts of the Snyderville Basin.
"Part of the challenge is this crosses into multiple jurisdictions," Hosen said. "Park City and the county have a great working relationship, but in order to expand those services it would require more assistance and even Wasatch County would need to be brought to the table.
"The goal is to provide as much service as possible within the constraints that we have," he said. The next meeting will be held in February.
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