Wasatch Transit Study Likely To Begin In May

Last week the Wasatch County Council agreed to participate in a Transit Study that will look at the feasibility of a commuter bus line running through Wasatch County. With six other government organizations involved, the study is now about a month away from starting.

Metropolitan Planning Director Shawn Seager with the Mountainland Association of Governments, or MAG, says that after a presentation from MAG on the transit study, Wasatch County council voted to participate in the study.

“They thought it would be a good idea to look at that aspect of our future transportation system,” Seager explained. “See what role Wasatch County could play in that, recognizing that some significant development is taking place in the unincorporated portions of Wasatch County. In particular up around Mayflower area around the Jordanelle.”

Wasatch County joins, Park City, Heber City, Midway, MAG, UDOT and UTA in financially contributing to the study.

The study will cost an estimated $100,000. 80% of the study will be funded through UDOT’s rural transit division and 20% will come from local governments. Seager breaks down the $20,000 commitment from six different government agencies.

“Park City identified at $5,000,” Seager continued. “We have Midway in at $1,000, Heber in at $2,000, Wasatch County in it $2,000. We have the Utah Transit Authority contributing $5,000 and we have Mountainland contributing $5,000. So, we have about $20,000 from locals and $80,000 in federal that’s being channeled through UDOT.”

MAG staff will manage the study and put out a request for qualification process to consultants.

“The consultant will take a look at the existing demographic data that’s in the study area of Park City, Wasatch County, Utah County,” Seager said. “Try to understand how many people live there. Where they work, what the commute patterns are. Then do an analysis on that demographic data to try to project or anticipate what type of ridership the area could experience if we were to establish a transit route. Maybe look at a route from Heber Valley to Utah County, maybe look at a route from Heber Valley into Park City and tie it into the Park City system. The consultant will try to basically project future ridership and they’ll do that by years. Their first year that they’ll look at is the year 2050 then they’ll look at 2040, 2030 and 2020, what would happen today if they actually established a transit route. So that’ll give the policymakers additional information as to whether or not they want to continue to pursue establishing a transit route in the area as a pilot program, or whether it’s going to be not feasible.”

Seager says they’ll release the request for qualification this month, select a consultant next month and have them working in the month of May. Seager expects they’ll have the results about six months after the study starts, meaning late fall of 2019. If the study recommends implementing a transit system through the valley the timing of a pilot program would depend on which transit authorities are involved.

“If it was UTA service, Utah Transit Authority service, they make those changes every six months,” Seager explained. “They have change day in the spring, change day in the fall. Not sure how Park City changes their service if they have those type of standardized change days. You could anticipate that you could run service I think within six months to a year after you’ve made a determination as to whether or not you want to run service.”