The Park Record editorial, July 7-9, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, July 7-9, 2010

Salt Lake/Park City bus route is worth considering

At this point it may seem a bit optimistic to imagine 1,000 to 3,000 people using an inter-county bus service between Park City and Salt Lake City on a daily basis. But preliminary figures from a Park City Transit report on the viability of an over-the-summit transit service suggest that, if the service is designed properly, that is how many people might hop on.

We hope that officials from Park City, Summit County and the Utah Transit Authority will continue working together toward that end. Given the increasing amount of back and forth traffic between the Wasatch Front and Back, the volatile price of gasoline and environmental considerations, a safe, reliable transit service between Park City and Salt Lake could one day be considered an indispensible amenity comparable to the well-used transit service already in place in Park City.

Imagine college students who live in Park City being able to commute to Salt Lake City campuses on a bus, or conversely, think about the potential for students living in Salt Lake being able to jump on a bus to ski in Park City for the day.

A reasonably priced route with well planned stops could also be a boon to Park City employers allowing them to tap into the larger metropolitan labor pool in the Valley. Currently, many prospective employees in Salt Lake are wary of the drive over Parleys Summit in the winter and therefore don’t consider working in Park City.

Because there are fewer people spread over large distances, to say nothing of their fierce independent spirit, public transportation is still a tough sell in the West. It took a long time for the Park City transit system, even though the fare was free, to gain enough riders to keep the critics at bay. During the off season, City Council members were often peppered with complaints about the empty buses trundling around town, and it was years before ridership justified running the buses year round. It was the same story when Summit County hitched a ride with Park City and expanded the system out to Kimball Junction. Ridership was spotty at first but has steadily grown.

Admittedly, some people will never give up the freedom and convenience of driving their own cars between Park City and Salt Lake no matter how expensive or carbon-intensive it may be. But for others, the Gulf oil spill, the recession and a new awareness of the environment are fueling a demand for ever increasing public transit boundaries. Now is the time to begin paving that road.

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