Summit County hears preliminary findings from equity and access transit study
Findings and recommendations from the study will be finalized by early September
The Summit Stage is a free resource for visitors and community members, but how well it functions and services the community is what county leaders are identifying as they move forward with their Short Range Transit Plan.
Under the plan, the county and its partners are documenting the existing conditions of the transportation service, conducting a survey of current riders, identifying the needs and opportunities for the service, and creating goals for the agency for the next five years.
To help with these efforts, transportation consulting firm Fehr & Peers is coordinating an equity and access study. The firm’s transportation Planner Sydney Provan attended the Summit Board of County Commissioners’ work session meeting Tuesday, July 13, to provide county leaders with an update on the study, which included a reminder of why it was needed in the first place.
Provan noted that outreach for the Short Range Transit Plan did not reach a full representative sample of service for residents and that the outreach for the plan primarily connected with existing riders. In Provan’s presentation, she noted that the equity and access study is an opportunity to hear more from people who commonly face barriers to travel.
Outreach for the study included a new survey, plus outreach focus groups for Summit and Lake counties that happened earlier this week. So far, Provan reported that the new survey has gleaned about 130 responses and that there are print and online versions for Spanish and English speakers. About one-fourth of the respondents so far have been Spanish speakers.
Though Provan and her team are still gathering data and finalizing the results, she did share some preliminary themes with the commissioners. It’s important to note that her presentation was based off the first 80 responses, which is how many the survey had compiled when the presentation was created July 6. Her preliminary findings were based on these initial results.
A few of the results she shared directly correlated with how respondents filled out the survey.
“One interesting thing that stood out to us was there’s some big differences between people who filled out the survey in Spanish versus English,” Provan said.
For example, Provan said the rate of people who say they have access to a car was much higher for English speakers than it was for Spanish speakers. Not only that, but the rate of people who have difficulty accessing their destinations frequently or all the time is higher for Spanish speakers than it is for English speakers. How these two populations use the Summit Stage also differs.
“The English responses are more likely to drive themselves, ride a bike or walk,” Provan said. “And then (there’s) a higher response rate for the Spanish survey responses to ride Summit Stage or Breckenridge Free Ride or get a ride from friends and family.”
Some larger operational themes Provan pulled out were that about 20% of respondents ride Summit Stage on a weekly basis and that travel time is the primary general transportation challenge. Provan said respondents reported that the main barriers to riding Summit Stage are the wait times between buses and the amount of time spent traveling on the bus.
Some of the desired routes respondents would like to see including the following:
- Direct connection from Frisco to Dillon
- More options to Breckenridge’s Main Street
- More stops within Dillon Valley
- Service to Swan Meadow Village/Summit Cove
- Service to Frisco Peninsula
- Service to medical services, including locations outside Summit County like Shaw Cancer Center
- Service to MountainView, LakeFork and Other Manufactured Home Parks
After Provan concluded her presentation, all three commissioners expressed support for making the Summit Stage easier to use for the county’s Spanish-speaking community. Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard noted that some people have to be at work at 6 a.m. and that services don’t usually start until later in the day.
Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence also voiced support for making changes to the service to be more inclusive.
“It is obvious that so much of our Spanish-speaking community is really dependent upon the Summit Stage,” Lawrence said. “What can we do to make that more accessible? What can we do to make it more intuitive for them, more friendly?”
Lawrence suggested having drivers take a Spanish class via their phone, and Blanchard and Commissioner Tamara Pogue voiced their support for adding stops near medical office buildings.
Provan noted that the study has not yet concluded and that her team is working with local partners to garner responses including the Summit County Community and Senior Center, Building Hope Summit County, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center and more.
Assistant Summit County Manager Bentley Henderson and Lawrence both expressed their desires to have the Summit School District participate in the study to see how the Summit Stage could better serve students trying to get to school, particularly those who attend Summit High School.
As for next steps, Provan said the outreach portion of the equity and access study will conclude in the middle of July. In mid-August, her team will finalize a needs analysis, and at the beginning of September, her team will present short-, medium- and long-term recommendations.
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