Amy Roberts: Getting us off the road doesn’t happen by accident
For years, city and county leaders have begged us to get on board with an environmentally friendly commute. There has been a lot of pleading to take the bus.
“Fewer cars on the roads reduce our carbon footprint and protect our winters,” we were told. And for the most part, we all agreed. But apparently, we just assumed the actual bus-riding part was an action meant for everyone else. So eventually, those emotional and science-based appeals evolved into a financial prompt, and much of Main Street is now paid parking. But despite all this, our garages largely remain as empty as the buses.
Our local governments have put in quite a lot of effort to clear the roads of cars. They’ve prioritized walkability, expanded the free citywide bus system and even offer a low-cost e-bike share program. At every street corner, we are encouraged, if not incentivized, to leave our cars at home. But somewhere along the way, a few wrong turns were made on the way to a greater good.
County Councilman Roger Armstrong recently highlighted his challenges trying to take the bus from his home to Deer Valley Resort.
“The myStop app was completely unhelpful – the bus never came,” he said in a KPCW interview. “That was unhelpful. We waited quite a long time for the bus that didn’t arrive, either at the time it was supposed to, or any of the random times that happened to be posted on the bus stop sign as to when it might be expected. So we wound up driving.”
He went on to say had the bus ever showed up, it would have taken him over 40 minutes to get from his house to the resort, which is just a few miles from where he lives.
I can relate to his angst. I have always enjoyed an express bus to Deer Valley in the winter. I would hop on at the end of my street in Prospector, make a few stops, and be at the resort in 15 minutes. Last winter, though, this route changed. The Yellow bus line stopped at the Main Street terminal and didn’t continue on to Deer Valley anymore. My choice was to take the Red bus from my house, which made a number of extra stops and took over 30 minutes to arrive at my destination, or I could take the Yellow line to Main Street and connect there. I attempted to do this several times, but the Yellow bus was almost always late, or my connection left early. So I missed it a lot and ended up waiting another 20 minutes to hitch a ride to the resort. The same situation applied on my way home. Most days, it took me over 40 minutes to get from my house to Deer Valley — a five minute drive by car.
There are a lot of seasonal resort workers in my neighborhood, and they too were frustrated — with the added concern of being late to work. We were not alone. More than once I saw people at the Main Street terminal give up and order an Uber.
It’s easy to dismiss this as a first-world problem, and it indeed is. We’re lucky to live in a town that provides free transportation to world-class ski resorts. But, ultimately, it is largely up to those of us in the first world to solve these types of problems — after all, we created them.
The good news is, both Summit County and Park City transit representatives, who jointly operate the bus system, continue to view transportation as a top priority and plan to work together to help pave the way for a better, more convenient commute. Here’s hoping they start with the Yellow route.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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Columnist Amy Roberts recently found two diversions from the glum news of 2020: the mysterious desert monolith and “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”