Yesterday, I noted that despite it’s nascent stage of development, the Provo airport’s proximity to downtown offers a major economic advantage. The Atlantic Cities then posted a follow up to their original article on this topic.
Other than bringing in more flights, one of the biggest things Provo could do to bolster the airport is connect it to the public transit system. Indeed, while many people in Provo routinely drive around town, taking public transit to the airport is an obvious choice — even for people with cars — because it means avoiding parking hassles, fees, and time.
But with only a skeletal flight schedule in place right now, how could sending the bus out there actually be feasible?
The obvious answer, I think, is to connect the entire west end of Center Street to the rest of the city via buses. This would have the benefit of allowing residents to take public transit to the airport, but would also potentially open up the the lake, CLAS Ropes Course, and the lower Provo River to increased use.
This idea would have the collateral benefit of increasing the importance of the west side and Utah Lake in the city. And according (at least implicitly) to this KSL article and this post by Mayor Curtis, increasing the usage and prominence of the lake is something that should and will happen.
In any case, the point is that the airport and surrounding destinations need to be accessible by more than just cars. However, I think the hang up may be that many of us — myself included — still struggle to think of the airport as a major destination in the city, and as something that will drive major future growth. With less than a year as a commercial airport, it’s easy to simply forget that it’s there, or that more and more people are going to move through it.
But the airport is a major key to Provo’s economic development and as such has a greater need for public transit than almost anywhere else in the city. Whereas many of the buses in Provo drive around well below capacity, a bus to the airport — that also passed the nearby lake — would meet growing demand. And the best part is that there is time to implement this idea now, just as the airport is growing, rather than later like many of the metropolises in the Atlantic Cities article.