Michael Brandy, Deseret News
A Bus Rapid Transit vehicle sits at the Millcreek Station. The 10-mile route kicks off this summer.

SOUTH SALT LAKE — "TRAX on rubber tires" is coming to 3500 South this summer.

The Utah Transit Authority offered the media a sneak preview of its new "Bus Rapid Transit" (BRT), nicknamed "MAX," at the TRAX Millcreek Station last week.

UTA's BRT service will officially begin Monday, July 14, going from the Millcreek TRAX station at 3300 S. 210 West to 8400 West in Magna. The bus route will cover 10 miles.

The $7 million Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project along 3500 South is a way to provide faster, prioritized bus service in specific corridors. It uses technologies like signal prioritization and dedicated lanes to provide fast, efficient and dependable bus service.

MAX is also proof that UTA isn't just focused on north-south transportation.

UTA is also going to look at adding MAX in the area around Brigham Young University in Provo and eventually south Davis County, if it proves as successful as hoped for.

"This is just the first phase," said Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, UTA spokeswoman. "It's a cross between TRAX and bus service."

While TRAX is great for speed and promptness, its infrastructure is very expensive. MAX has few such costs.

She said UTA believes it will shave 25 percent off the travel time between the TRAX station and Magna. That's 45 minutes in actual travel time for the entire route. The MAX bus will run at least every 15 minutes.

UTA board president Orrin T. Colby said maybe someone could drive the MAX route quicker — unless he or she hit a traffic jam.

He also believes MAX will likely go into south Davis County, instead of light rail.

Bohnsack-Ware said said some adjacent routes near MAX will be reduced, but not eliminated, when the new service begins.

UTA estimates some 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.

The fare on the MAX BRT line will be the same as bus and TRAX service, currently $1.75. However, riders will pay for their fares at ticket vending machines at stations. They do not have to show tickets to a MAX driver. UTA police officers will randomly check for fares, like they do on TRAX.

Stepping onto a red, white and blue MAX bus is like entering a TRAX car/bus hybrid. The cab is very roomy — with wider aisles — much like a TRAX train. There are also some seats facing one another and no more than one step up required anywhere inside the MAX bus.

It also has three doors, and handicap access is through the middle door, not the front. There are more windows, plus unique European styling.

Bohnsack-Ware said the MAX buses also have their cooling systems on the top, not the rear of the bus. This is believed to be a cooling enhancement that will be more economical, too, and perhaps one day be the UTA standard in bus cooling systems.

Here are some BRT statistics:

• Each of the 10 MAX BRT buses for the new 3500 South line cost $403,000.

• Total capacity on each MAX bus: 60 passengers.

• MAX BRT buses will use shared lanes with mixed traffic.

• MAX BRT buses get signal priority. Each BRT bus has an emitter that sends a signal to the traffic light at each intersection. As the bus approaches the intersection, a green traffic light will hold for the bus to clear the intersection. This helps with reduced transit time and reliability and is similar to what TRAX trains now utilize.

• Fewer stops for MAX BRT mean faster and more reliable service.

• MAX BRT buses will offer high frequency service (15 minutes or less).

• MAX BRT buses use improved passenger stops with passenger information displays and weather shelters.

• The 3500 South BRT line will have 248 park and ride spaces opening day, and an additional 150 later this summer.

• Hours of operation coincide with TRAX, with the exception of no BRT Sunday service.

• For more information, visit www.rideuta.com.

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