Guest editorial: The three best ways to get around Park City
March 21, 2017
My husband and I moved to Fox Point in the Redstone area in November as it met our two non-negotiables: a 2-car garage and direct access via bus, bike or our feet, to most of the places we wanted to go in Park City or the Snyderville Basin. No other place put us closer to a wider variety of stores, a post office, library, our bank, business offices, restaurants, a ski and bike shop.
We have loved making not driving our cars a habit. With our recent spring-like weather, riding my bike to the places I previously walked is luxurious — mostly because it is so fast and I can go so much further from my front door.
I've gotten good at riding the bus. I can say what city and county officials want to hear: it's faster and easier than driving. For the entire ski season I took an express bus from Redstone to the Old Town transit center and timed it so a second bus would quickly take me to Deer Valley — in particular, to the front door of the lodge. I carried my boots and helmet in a backpack and picked up my skis at the ski valet as I headed to the lift. Hallelujah! No walking through the parking lot in ski boots carrying my equipment. Sweet. 30 minutes.
I'd like to share a few of my bus-riding observations. Riders tend to be young people, I would guess without cars, who ride the bus to work and play. Free public transit makes this all possible. Because they don't own cars we are not getting additional cars off the road. There are usually no more than 12-15 riders on this route and a whole lot of empty seats. There are disproportionately few other "residential commuters."
The trickiest part of this whole public transit model is incentivizing people to ride the bus ESPECIALLY during busy events when we experience the most traffic and biggest delays. Sure, at these times, the buses do fill up, but picking up a busload of passengers and waiting in traffic wreaks havoc with schedules. Riding may be standing-room-only. I have experienced not only standing, but squashed-in standing and for a much longer than scheduled time. This is very uncomfortable; in fact, after the World Cup aerials, it was scary. Riders became "too squashed-in" and short-tempered. Faces were against others' backs; I felt that this was what being in a mob was like.
I'm very hesitant to ride the bus when in a community sense, it is most important I do so. If I have to wait in traffic to get out of a parking lot and then to travel even a short distance I feel much more comfortable sitting in my own car than risking standing up for the same extended amount of time on an overly crowded bus.
Part of a solution?
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We need dedicated lanes to keep the buses moving at our busiest times. I will ride the bus — probably even standing up — if I know it will get me there faster than my car will. We bus riders should be seen as sources of public transit advertising. I think I need a cap, or satchel, a badge, a T-shirt — something, identifying me as a regular bus-rider. Maybe I can convince you to be one, too. Maybe I can get a punch ticket and after 10 rides, I get a season ski pass (HA!). There are certainly ways we bus riders can help promote bus riding. I'd be more effective with a few good ideas from officials on just how to do that.