UTA backs off plan to cut downtown bus routes

By Hillary Holbrook

Students opposed to UTA’s proposal to cut bus routes servicing the U from downtown Salt Lake City are breathing a collective sigh of relief.

The Utah Transit Authority approved a $1.5-million budget increase in May to keep the disputed routes as part of what UTA spokesman Chad Saley said is the largest redesign in UTA history.

UTA previously proposed cutting many of the bus routes running east from downtown and adding routes going south to more suburban neighborhoods, hoping to increase ridership. But a group of angry bus riders formed the U Student/Staff Transit Coalition and actively campaigned against the proposal.

Most of the public comments UTA received about the proposed changes were also negative.

“I’m happy they listened to the public outcry and we were able to preserve so much service,” said Nicole Christensen, a junior in international studies, who heads the coalition. “But I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Christensen said when the new bus system is implemented on Aug. 26, the changes could be a problem for students who are trying to find their new routes during the first week of school.

Not everyone, however, felt they had enough time to give their opinion about the changes.

James Comeford, a U alumnus and employee, said he thinks UTA should take more time to make its adjustments.

“I think (UTA is) pushing the process too fast,” he said. “People still have valid concerns.”

Comeford, who rides his bike to the U, said UTA should take at least six months longer to validate concerns and give people more time to comment.

Saley said UTA will continue to analyze all routes based on population growth patterns in the Salt Lake Valley. The bus system, Saley said, is tweaked three times a year.

“If ridership changes and population grows, we’ll make minor adjustments to keep the bus system effective,” he said. “Nothing is ever 100 percent permanent.”

For more information on bus route changes visit www.rideutah.com.

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