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UTA to delay bus restructuring

It will phase in changes over 1 1/2-year period

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A restructuring of the Utah Transit Authority's bus routes in Salt Lake and south Davis counties scheduled to take effect in August 2005 has been delayed.

The reorganization — which will include the elimination of some bus routes — will start then but be phased in over a 12- to 18-month period.

David Huber, UTA regional general manager, said reasons for the phase-in include the beginning of a joint process to plan the transportation future of downtown Salt Lake City. UTA wants to wait until that plan is final before setting downtown bus routes.

Huber noted that because eliminating or changing a bus route can have a big impact on passengers' routines, the transit agency wants more time for public input.

Huber declined to release the proposed route eliminations and changes until public hearings are scheduled.

The overall concept of the redesign is to increase the frequency of service on many routes to one bus every 15 minutes throughout the day.

Now only one route has service every 15 minutes. After the redesign, 12 to 15 routes will have 15-minute service throughout the day, Huber said. That is the same as the frequency of service on the TRAX light-rail line.

"What the consumer wants is predictability — being able to design their schedule around the bus schedule," Huber said.

Frequency rates for the so-called "community" routes, which have lower demand than the busier routes, will also be increased to once every 20 or 30 minutes.

The phase-in will begin with the introduction of new "fast" routes. Those buses will operate similarly to existing express buses that connect Weber, Davis and Utah counties to Salt Lake City, but they will originate in outlying suburban areas such as Herriman, Riverton and Draper.

Other phases of the redesign will not be introduced until 2006, Huber said.

E-mail: zman@desnews.com