TRAX, FrontRunner and now: MAX.
This spring, the Utah Transit Authority will open a new bus rapid-transit service known as the "MAX" along 3500 South in Salt Lake County. It is being promoted as a faster, more reliable bus service, with buses given priority over other vehicles to move through traffic signals.
Within the next two years, UTA plans for some exclusive lanes to be built for operators to drive MAX buses. No other vehicles would be allowed in the lanes, which would run down the center of 3500 South.
"A lot of our patrons ride TRAX and have a car but choose to ride TRAX because it's a good service," said Hal Johnson, UTA manager over bus rapid transit. "Our goal with this is to really tap into some of the discretionary riders and people that have a choice."
UTA estimates close to 1,500 riders will use the MAX system on a daily basis. The 3500 South line is planned to run about 10 miles from Magna Main Street to the TRAX station at 200 West and 3300 South.
If successful, the agency plans to open other bus rapid-transit lines along the Wasatch Front, including one from Orem to Provo and another in south Davis County. Studies are now under way for the Utah County line, which would serve commuters along University Parkway.
With the 3500 South line, UTA anticipates it will spend roughly $7 million to install traffic signals, build bus shelters and purchase new buses for the route, among other things.
"Our investment is really pretty modest," Johnson said.
The public is invited to an open house next Thursday from 6 until 8 p.m. to discuss plans for the bus rapid-transit line. The meeting will be at UTA headquarters, 3600 S. 700 West.
Some riders have expressed concern about the plan for a new bus line. One commuter said his regular bus would be eliminated from service, and, in fact, UTA is proposing to cancel its Route 225 and change the alignment of Route 62, which also runs through the area.
Johnson said he is hopeful riders will embrace the change. A total of 23 stations are planned along the bus rapid-transit line. Anywhere from six to eight buses will service passengers, with buses planned to come every 15 minutes."We're really trying to gain new customers," Johnson said about the service. For more information, log on to www.rideuta.com.