PARK CITY, Utah — Public transit is essential to those who commute to work or spend time in Park City, with many coming from Heber or areas around Salt Lake City. Under Governor Spencer Cox’s 2024 fiscal year proposed budget, the cost of those travels would be fare-free as a part of a year-long zero-fare transit pilot with a price tag of $25 million. This comes on the heels of the increased usage seen during Free Fare February earlier this year.
Commuters between Salt Lake City and Park City currently face a round-trip fare of $5 though other multi-ride punch card options would reduce that if bought in bulk. Many employers cover the cost of transit fares for employees but not in all cases and only to and from work. Travelers already experience the free transit offered by Park City and High Valley Transit; reducing the last barrier to totally free travel could have a significant effect.
In addition to helping workers, the move to fare-free hopes to increase public transit use and reduce traffic congestion. Parking is a challenge for ski resorts and around Park City, making any reduction in vehicle numbers a significant benefit to the community. From Park City Mountain Resort’s new online reservation system to Solitude’s parking fees, resorts have been navigating options to reduce the parking problem.
Air quality is also at the forefront of decision-making, especially during inversion season, and emissions are the primary drivers of particulate levels. Among other elements of Governor Cox’s budget for pollution, reducing vehicles on the road is a significant step in improving the air quality index.
“We have seen the benefits of fare-free transit for decades now in Park City. Paired with frequent 365-day-a-year service, fare-free makes transit a more viable option over driving a single-occupant vehicle and contributing to congestion,” said Park City Mayor Nann Worel. “We’re excited about the possibility of other Utah communities experiencing fare-free benefits– cleaner air, less traffic, and a higher quality of life.”