At long last, Spanish Fork, Payson, Mapleton and Salem are going UTA. But it's coming at an inconvenience to other Utah County bus patrons, particularly those in Springville.

During this November's general election, voters in those four cities overwhelmingly approved annexation into the Utah Transit Authority's Transit District, as well as a corresponding quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund the bus service to the cities.Bus service in those cities could begin as early as January. Those routes will be extensions of current routes UTA runs in Utah County, all of them running through Springville. Consequently, service on those routes will take several minutes longer, and scheduling times will be changed significantly, said UTA public relations specialist Bill Barnes.

The most substantial changes involve the current Springville Route 12 and East Orem/South Provo Route 2, Barnes said.

Beginning next year, Route 12 will be extended from 400 S. Main in Springville to major roads in Spanish Fork and Springville. It will also require buses on the current Route 2 to accommodate patrons to the 400 South and 900 South Springville area.

Those Route 2 changes would extend bus service from 2000 S. State in Provo to Mapleton. Buses on that route would now follow U.S. 89 in Springville and drive past Springville High before reaching Main Street in Mapleton. In order to accommodate the changes in Route 2, scheduled times for departures on its northbound buses will be changed to eight minutes earlier.

The south county service will also require changes to the college connector Route 8. The ending point for that route will be extended from southern Springville to Spanish Fork, where south county patrons can catch rides. Departure schedules for southbound buses on that route will be moved five minutes earlier, while northbound bus departure schedules will be shifted eight minutes earlier.

Fares for regular routes will be 75 cents, while commuter express routes to Salt Lake City will cost $1.70. UTA does offer monthly passes for riders who use the service frequently, as well as substantial discounts for senior citizens.

In order to start the service to the four cities, UTA officials required approval from Spanish Fork residents, on top of approval by residents of the other three communities, since Spanish Fork will provide the lion's share of sales-tax revenues required to pay for the bus service.

With the new routes, UTA will service 13 of Utah County's 21 incorporated communities. Four north county cities joined the bus district last year, and UTA will service Provo Canyon residents, who also approved UTA annexation this fall.

The Provo Canyon routes, which will primarily serve the Sundance resort, will require specially equipped buses and will not be a part of any other current UTA routes. In addition to residential approval of the annexation, UTA officials are requiring Sundance to help purchase those buses and to make improvements to parts of the North Fork Canyon Road.

UTA officials will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Dec. 27, to discuss the route changes, among other business. That meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Utah County Administration Building, 100 E. Center, Provo.