Summit County has approved a transit deal, ending a 15-year-old contract with Park City
Contract outlines bus rapid transit responsibilities, future tax revenue split
The split between Summit County and Park City Transit is getting realer by the day as buses are being wrapped in the High Valley Transit District’s colors and micro-transit minivans are shuttling passengers around the Basin while officials are set to vote on the final bureaucratic agreements that will separate the two entities.
Negotiating the split had the potential to be thorny, as the city and county had to divide millions of dollars, future sales-tax revenues and assets, including buses, that the county has helped pay for over the years.
The Summit County Council last week approved an interlocal agreement with the High Valley Transit District that nullifies the 2006 agreement that previously governed the relationship between Park City Transit and Summit County. Both High Valley and Park City are expected to adopt the agreement in public meetings on Thursday.
County Councilor Roger Armstrong indicated in the meeting that the approval was important, but residents and visitors getting on a bus likely would be more interested in whether the bus was on time and if it went where they wanted to go than which transit district was responsible for it.
“They don’t care what this looks like — at the end of the day, they want to get on a bus and get from point A to point B,” he said.
Last week, High Valley took an impactful step to make the rider experience more seamless by integrating the Park City Transit bus routes in its app. Now, users whose trips would be best accommodated by Park City Transit buses rather than High Valley’s microtransit system will be able to use High Valley’s app to plan a trip.
Going from Old Town to the Canyons Village base area, for example, a person using High Valley’s app might be instructed to head to the Old Town transit center and hop on the 10 White Electric Xpress route, which is operated by Park City Transit.
Soon, they might also be offered the choice of the 101 Spiro, which is one of the fixed routes High Valley transit is preparing to launch July 1.
The district and its contractors have purchased buses for the district, and per the new interlocal agreement, Park City recently delivered five of its fleet buses to High Valley.
Those buses, four from 2016 and one from 2010, passed inspection, High Valley Board President Kim Carson said, and are in good condition. They will join buses arriving from Indiana, California, Alabama and Florida, all soon to be wrapped in the new transit district’s colors and adorned with its logo.
Caroline Rodriguez, High Valley’s interim general manager, said it was challenging to find full-size buses for the district, especially given the compressed timeline.
“You don’t just buy buses off the shelf,” she said.
The recently inked agreement also outlines how Park City and High Valley will pursue the bus rapid transit project that officials have sought for years. Park City will be responsible for the portion on the S.R. 248 entryway, which the agreement said would be operational by fall 2024, while High Valley would be responsible for the S.R. 224 leg. The agreement does not establish a timeline for that project, which officials have said is in environmental review and awaiting federal and state grant evaluations.
High Valley is also set to take over the relationship with the Utah Transit Authority, which, along with Park City Transit, provides bus service to the Salt Lake Valley via the PC-SLC Connect.
Summit County and Park City had agreed to pay up to $700,000 annually for that service, Rodriguez said, and High Valley will look to renegotiate it as Park City will no longer provide funding.
The agreement also splits an ongoing revenue source that has paid for transit and transportation-related projects in Park City and Summit County.
The agreement calls for an existing mass transit sales tax, 0.25% on most purchases, to be apportioned based on where the purchase was made, with those made within Park City limits going to Park City coffers and those elsewhere going to the county. That results in an almost equal 50-50 split, Carson said.
Carson indicated the negotiations ended with a fair distribution of money, responsibilities and assets, though she said the Park City and Summit County negotiators both had items they were adamant about including.
She indicated she was pleased with the initial rollout of High Valley’s microtransit system. More than 1,300 people had signed up for High Valley’s app, she said, and the district’s microtransit system has been receiving 250 to 300 ride requests per day.
“It’s really remarkable. It’s definitely exceeding our expectations,” she said. “It’s exciting to see. I drove back to my home in Silver Creek yesterday afternoon and there was one of the vans coming down the road. I’m seeing them out everywhere, which is exciting.”
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