En route to a permanent home, the buses in Utah County started stopping at a new temporary transfer site at the University Mall Wednesday.
Utah Transit Authority officials say the new site will solve some problems created when the bus line was asked to vacate the transfer station on the northeast end of the building in February.Riders used to having access to the mall interior while they waited for buses were suddenly waiting on the sidewalk at 750 East along 1200 South, without shelters, benches or access to phones.
The new site, at approximately 1100 South and 700 East, will have three shelters and a temporary asphalt ramp for wheelchair customers.
UTA official John Inglish said the 750 E. 1200 South stop has "not been a good site for us. There are no amenities and little space."
Inglish said an attorney from Woodbury Corp., representatives of mall management and Orem city, as well as UTA officials, met to choose the temporary site. He said all of the parties involved were in agreement on the new site.
Mall management is providing space for commuter parking in its customer lot, said Inglish, lending credibility to the rumor that no permanent rifts exist between the management and the bus operation.
"Isn't it nice?" said Inglish.
He said the UTA is still focused on obtaining a permanent site in the same general area that can serve as a transit center. Mall manager Rob Kallas has asked the UTA to relocate after waiting "for years" for the bus service to find a permanent site other than at the mall's northeast entrance.
"That's all dependent on acquiring property. We want to maintain at all costs the transfer ability. This is an important transfer location for us," said Inglish. "I'm confident this will work for us until we find some property."
He said the UTA needs "about an acre" and enough space for 40-foot buses to turn around.
Inglish said turnaround space at the temporary site will be obtained by routing buses in from 1200 South heading west, then north on the mall's perimeter road to the stop, then turning right on 1100 South, coming back out again on 800 East.
Orem City Manager Michael Dyal said he and Mayor Stella Welsh attended the meeting of UTA and mall officials but left before the temporary site was selected. Dyal said he was not aware of how the routing for the buses would work but if more bus traffic on 800 East causes neighbors' dismay, "it's a public right of way available for public transit."
Dyal said Orem city is very interested in public input and in helping to see that public transportation is made accessible and available to those who need it.