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Park City inquires about coronavirus-era traffic, travel habits



PARK CITY, Utah – Some people in Park City may have been hesitant to ride buses during the ski season that just ended as the novel coronavirus continued to spread.

And others may have opted to drive themselves with parking appearing to be more available with the reduced wintertime crowds.

City Hall has launched a survey designed to learn about travel habits during a winter that was unlike any other in the skiing era of Park City. Transportation for decades has been a key element of the municipal government’s overall plans for any ski season, but major alterations were made to routes and operations in response to the coronavirus concerns.

During the ski season of 2020-2021, though, there was concern people would avoid buses due to worries about being in an enclosed space with others.

In the survey, which is not scientific, the municipal government says it “is hoping to better understand how residents, visitors, and employees traveled to, from, and within Park City during the 2020-2021 winter season” between November and April.

One of the key questions inquires about the primary reasons someone’s travel habits were altered, if at all. The selection of answers includes a range of pandemic-era reasons as well as others options. One of the available answers is someone was able to work either on a full-time basis or a part-time basis from home, while another says there were new employment or circumstances of life that impacted someone’s travel. Two other answers made available in the survey directly identified the coronavirus, one describing that someone traveled less frequently due to the pandemic and the other saying someone “did not feel comfortable taking transit or carpooling” due to the coronavirus.

The survey, meanwhile, asks whether someone was aware of the measures taken by the transit system to protect health and safety.

It is not clear how the results of the pandemic-related questions will be used. Officials, though, are likely readying blueprints for the transit system for the summer-tourism season and will be addressing the next ski season in coming months as well. There is an expectation that worries about the coronavirus will stretch at least into the summer as the vaccination efforts continue. If that is the case, some of the opinions that will be gleaned from the survey could influence the transportation planning for the summer and the next winter.

The concerns about traffic continued through the ski season even with the crowds reduced from a typical winter. Traffic worries are a longstanding issue in Park City, stretching through the decades of the skiing era but appearing to especially increase in the years before the pandemic. There are regular backups on the entryways in the morning and evening rush hours, while places like Old Town and the neighborhoods around Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort can also become clogged at those times. Many Parkites see the traffic as something that degrades the quality of life in the community.