While the Utah Transit Authority expanded service to both north and south Utah County during the past year, don't expect any additional service routes during 1991.
Voters in Lehi, American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Lindon approved a one-quarter of 1 percent raise in their sales tax rates during the 1989 election in order to receive downtown bus service. That service began last March. In November, Springville ended its two-year struggle to receive UTA service as residents approved a similar annexation during the general election. Early last week, downtown service began there as well.Springville Mayor Delora Bertelsen said she is ecstatic for the city's handicapped, senior citizens and college students, all of whom have increased access to vital areas of the county, and officials in northern Utah County cities said they have been pleased by the service so far.
Both services are extensions of UTA's Provo-Orem line, which began in 1985. According to UTA estimates, more than 5.25 million commuters have used the service since it was initiated in Utah County, many of them using the hourly Salt Lake commuter service route.
Also, ridership increased more than 31 percent from June 1989 to June 1990. UTA also opened its new Timpanogos Division Facility, 1110 S. Geneva Road, in March, and expanded its Salt Lake commuter route to include Sunday service in September.
Other south county cities, including Spanish Fork, Salem and Payson, have expressed interest in hearing UTA proposals for transit service, but plain economics will probably keep those proposals on paper for the foreseeable future.
Spanish Fork city officials, in particular, say they're concerned about the amount of service UTA actually provides as opposed to its actual cost. During several City Council meetings, including one at which UTA officials made its initial transit pitch, the council balked at UTA's price tag, which could be as much as $250,000.
During those meetings, UTA officials would not discuss to what extent the city would receive bus service, another sticking point with the council. "We would like to know what kind of services the city will get before we start annexation," Councilman Rex Woodhouse said during a May meeting.
However, at the time, UTA Assistant General Manager John Inglish told the Deseret News that the service cannot afford to have its transit planners make detailed proposals without a considerable capital outlay.
Additionally, city officials said they would be willing to put the issue to a ballot vote, but without the unanimous consent of city officials, including an annexation request from them, UTA could not make such a move, Inglish said.
In that time, Spanish Fork's position has not changed, according to Mayor Marie Huff. "We're kind of sitting back to see how things to run out in Springville. We want to see how many people use it and what kind of service they get."
That move leaves any service proposals for Payson and Salem pretty much dead in the water, since officials in those cities say UTA has indicated they would have to make up for the cost for travel between their cities and Springville.
"Before we invest in it, we want to make sure that we wouldn't have to pay such a tremendous amount," Payson Mayor Richard Harmer said. "Unless the service goes as far south as Spanish Fork, we probably would not be able to afford UTA, especially with some of the city projects that are going on."
Harmer said he is definitely in favor of the service, not just for residents, but for environmental reasons. "I think it's something we really need - that Utah County really needs. For one thing, it would do away with some of this air pollution if people took the bus instead of driving."
Salem Mayor Randy Brailsford said he has similar feelings on the issue. "Right now, if Spanish Fork and Payson went for it, I would definitely support it. But they haven't yet, and I'm not about to beat the bandwagon by myself.
"If those two would say `fine' on the issue, I'd tell UTA to go for it. But I'm not going to try for just Salem - it won't happen that way."