Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Taxpayers will subsidize city’s “free” taxi service at expense of established local businesses

Jack Fenton, Park City

Park City Municipal Corporation is currently considering going into the taxi business. This is a business with bare minimum profits, and a saturated marketplace. And yet, PCMC is willing to throw $360,000 worth of your tax dollars away in an attempt to get people into AWD Teslas — at no charge.

The current proposal is to contract with a company from Florida to provide an app enabling residents of Prospector Square, Bonanza Park, Thaynes Canyon, Old Town, and The Aerie, to summon an AWD Tesla for a free ride into town. This is a six-month "trial program." When you break down the numbers it looks like this: $360,000 for six months. $60,000 a month or $2,000 a day. Those are some expensive "free rides." All of the neighborhoods listed above are already served by our free bus system except The Aerie.

The Aerie is a neighborhood consisting of multi-million dollar second homes. Is PCMC's goal to get affluent people out of their Range Rovers and into a Tesla? And if those Aerie residents do chose to call a local taxi they would only spend $13 to get to Main Street. So now we are talking numbers.

Given that a ride in a local, licensed, insured, taxi is $13 to Main Street how many rides does it take to offset $360,000 — 27,692.

If this pilot program is good for 180 days, now we need to run up to the Aerie 153 times a day. There aren't 153 people in The Aerie in the summer. Even if the calls come from other areas, we're still at 153 rides a day. This is government waste as it's finest, on a local level.

Why is PCMC in such a hurry to compete against the people they sell business licenses to?
City governments have no business competing with the private sector!

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At the City Council meeting two weeks ago all of the members of the council were willing to postpone their decision except Andy Beerman. Why is Andy so in love with this idea? That is a question that should be asked during the upcoming election cycle.

Didn't PCMC spend millions of dollars over the last few years to become a walkable town? Tunnels, sidewalks, bike paths, signage, all in the name of walkability? Now we are going to spend $360,000 to get people into free Teslas! And they want to do it during the summer months, when walking is at its best.

This idea is just absurd. Because this is a contract, the drivers will not qualify for housing at the PCMC bus garage employee housing. This means that most of those drivers will have to drive their gas-powered cars or trucks into town for work, offsetting any reduction in carbon.

When this idea fails (and it will) we don't even end up with the Teslas, as those belong to the company from Florida.

If you live in the county and think this waste of tax dollars doesn't apply to you, think again. In the classified section of Saturday's Park Record is an ad seeking drivers for the county's version of this folly. The ad states that the county is looking for drivers to get people around the Kimball Junction area, in cars, free of charge. By my count there are 10 bus stops within the 1.5 mile loop the free bus makes when it comes through the Junction. This is not counting the six stops at the new transit center. That is 16 stops within 1.5 miles. Passengers only have to walk one tenth of a mile to get to the free bus.

It appears that the county is trying to reduce traffic in the Junction area by adding more cars! Somebody needs to explain to me how adding more cars will help our traffic problems. I must be missing something.