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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

UTA Update

Courtesy of the Utah Transportation Report:

Mid-Jordan, West Valley TRAX lines open in August

SALT LAKE—On Aug. 7, UTA will open the Mid-Jordan and West Valley TRAX lines. The Mid-Jordan line will travel from South Jordan to the University of Utah and replace the existing University line. The West Valley line will travel from West Valley City to downtown Salt Lake City. These new lines also bring many changes to UTA's bus system.

To prepare for the rail openings and to explore what UTA's riders wanted in the bus system UTA conducted an extensive outreach effort that included an online survey, a telephone survey and a series of open houses last fall. Using the information gathered during that effort, UTA planners developed two service proposals, which were put out for review and comment during a public comment period in March 2011. UTA received more than 900 comments on the proposals and based on those comments UTA has created a final service plan. The final plan addresses more than 60 percent of the comments received while still meeting UTA's goals. It is estimated ridership under the new plan will increase by 6 percent. UTA prides itself on listening to its riders and making changes where possible to meet both their needs and the budget concerns of the agency.

Examples of changes adopted due to comments are:
  • Most Sunday service will remain
  • Convert all Fast Bus routes to express routes with the exception of route 307, which will convert to local service.
This will allow some routes proposed for elimination to keep some trips.
  • Route 454 from Grantsville will retain one A.M. and P.M. trip (it previously had two and was proposed to be eliminated)
  • Make routing changes to some routes to provide better coverage to affected areas
  • Create several new flex routes to provide better coverage to affected areas
  • Maintain some service on several routes that were proposed to be cancelled
  • Operate the light rail lines as proposed
  • July 7—Online schedules and trip planning available
  • Mid July—Printed schedules available
  • Aug. 7—New rail lines open and bus changes begin
 I had to look up what UTA defined a 'Fast' bus as. Apparently, it just means limited stops, so that the 320 just ran the same route as the 220, with fewer stops. I seem to recall the 320 was a 'commuter' bus - five buses in the morning, five buses at night.

The 307 converting to local service.

I was started to learn their is a 207 bus. But it only runs from 5300 TRAX to 10000 South TRAX, along 7th East. I can't say I care for the 'TRAX to TRAX' route buses--Probably faster to get off at the nearest TRAX (64th, 72nd, 78th, 90th, 94th) station and walk 10 blocks east. Confusing, the 307 route runs a totally different route than the 207, despite the similarity in numbers. I'm glad to hear about the conversion to local service--it will be nice to have a local bus along 7th east.

The 'Express bus' seems to be UTA's 'Commuter Bus'. 5 buses in the morning, five buses at night, limited stops. (Which begs the question why the 'Fast Bus' distinction existed at all.)

Date for TRAX open moved up against--now August 7th, down from 17th.  

Seems UTA also intends to provide a lot more of their 'coverage' service using Flex Buses, rather than scheduled service. I'd call that an improvement. But that's an issue for its own post.