Record editorial: Park-and-ride lot could ease stress of winter commutes
The busy season in Park City is still a few weeks away from starting in earnest, but anyone who commutes into and out of Park City can clearly see the crowds are already starting to come.
As is the case every year, we’re in for a winter of packed roads and frustrating traffic jams. But there is a new amenity this year that could make the situation slightly more bearable. Last month, Summit County unveiled its long-awaited park-and-ride lot off of Kilby Road, across from Ecker Hill Middle School.
The idea is simple: If drivers coming up from the Salt Lake Valley — or residents in neighborhoods like Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook — park at the lot and take public transit to their destinations, the amount of vehicle traffic on S.R. 224 during peak times would be reduced. At full capacity, the lot would remove 450 cars from the road. It wouldn’t make S.R. 224 vehicle free by any means, but it’s not an insignificant number.
For the benefits to become a reality, though, transit officials must overcome a significant challenge: getting people to actually use the park-and-ride. And to do that, they first have to make sure would-be users actually know that the lot exists. It’s not directly accessible from Interstate 80 — drivers coming in from Salt Lake must instead take the Jeremy Ranch exit and navigate the much-maligned Kilby Road — meaning the lot is easy for many commuters to miss. Those are problems that could be solved easily enough by additional signage and an ongoing, robust outreach campaign.
Just as important is ensuring the park-and-ride is convenient enough to entice people to ditch their cars and hop on a bus. Even people who support public transit and are eager to do their part to ease the traffic congestion are unlikely to frequent the lot if doing so tacks on an hour to their daily commute. Currently, route schedules indicate travelers can get to Park City Mountain Resort’s Canyons Village base area in about 15 minutes without transferring buses, while it takes 25 minutes to get to the Park City base area. Factoring in the benefits of not having to get behind the wheel on S.R. 224 or deal with parking mayhem at PCMR, those times should do the trick for many commuters, even as other places, such as Deer Valley Resort, are more difficult to reach from the park-and-ride.
Doubtless, officials will have to monitor the lot through the season and be willing to tweak operations to make using it more efficient. Parkites should be hopeful, though, that it will take some of the pain out of their winter commutes.
The efforts of organizations like the South Summit Trails Foundation mean access to easy access to trails is no longer an amenity enjoyed only on the West Side.