Transit authority holds organizational meeting
by Greg Knight
The Times-Independent
May 17, 2018 | 714 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Moab area developer Michael Liss was elected chair of the Moab Transit Authority Study Committee on Tuesday, May 15 at its organizational meeting where he moderated a lively conversation, asking both the appointed members and interested citizens in attendance, “why would you like to get involved ... and what should we focus on?”

Member Joe Kingsley recounted the missed opportunity of not building the bypass around Moab two decades ago.

“UDOT budgeted money for two bridges over the Colorado River, but the community never agreed to a plan,” Kingsley said.

The group agreed that there is now a unique opportunity to get ahead of the transportation issues, with a focus equally on residents and visitors. Not just for Spanish Valley, Arches National Park and recreation areas, but to connect Moab more broadly. Currently there is no bus, rail or air service to Salt Lake City.

At the meeting, Joe Kingsley, a Moab resident with a history of working on national transportation issues at Amtrak and American Airlines, set the tone, saying people should be able to “come to Moab without a car.” The benefits of e-bikes were also discussed. Airport Director Judd Hill took that concept one step further, explaining, “there will be flying Ubers by 2023.”

Aaron Lindberg of Poison Spider Bicycles said he became interested in the possibility of tourists not using automobiles when a group flew into Moab, took a shuttle directly to Poison Spider and got on their rental bikes.

“They didn’t need a car the whole time they were in Moab,” Lindberg said.

Emily Campbell, a member of the Grand County Planning Commission, spoke about how public transportation can help attract millennials and support elderly residents, creating affordable housing corridors for people who now don’t need a car, and creating easy access to shopping, culture and recreation. Moab City Council Member Karen Guzman-Newton echoed the optimistic sentiment, saying, “we don’t need knee-jerk solutions, let’s set goals for 10 to 20 years from now.”

Grand County Economic Development and Planning Director Zacharia Levine invited transportation professionals and academics in Salt Lake City to the meeting via teleconference to give the committee background information, and talked about the correlation and causality of transportation systems to quality of life, sustainability goals and economic vitality.

“Affordable housing is also very important to this discussion,” Levine said. “My academic research informs me that housing and transportation are undoubtedly the top two issues that gateway resort regions and communities are facing, places similar to Moab. These are not challenges in isolation but are intimately connected.”

The majority of the discussion at the meeting was about change. What will that change be? What is rural? What is our community character? What kind of change is most desirable?

“We need to stop thinking about change as only about the number of people who live here,” Liss said. “The transportation issues seem to touch on all these aspects of change.”

The group agreed to meet again June 19 to define a mission statement for the nascent organization, to begin a deeper look at the transportation options in a rapidly changing technological environment, and set specific timelines for getting solutions formulated, funded and implemented.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.