OREM — The Utah Transit Authority’s new Utah Valley Express bus rapid transit system is set to begin operations on Monday, even though there’s still plenty of work to be done, including putting the new UVX logo on the 25 buses in the fleet.
During a test run Friday with members of the media, UTA officials pointed out temporary bus stops along the 10.5-mile long route through Orem and Provo, including the campuses of Utah Valley University and BYU.
Just over half of the route is along designated center bus lanes in both directions, separated by double-white lines from traffic whizzing by on busy streets, including University Parkway and University Avenue.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Utah Transit Authority bus operator Briant Thorne is reflected in the windows of a =hybrid electric articulated bus as he prepares to depart the Orem Central FrontRunner station for a test run of the Utah Valley Express on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. The bus rapid transit line service starts Monday.
For now, buses will have to cross over several lanes of traffic in some places to pick up and drop off passengers. When the 18 bus stops are completed, they’ll each be equipped with a 42-inch screen showing how close the next bus is.
UTA Regional General Manager Mary De La Mare-Schaefer said the $200 million project was never expected to be finished until spring of 2019, but a decision was made to run the buses when the new school year began.
“Everyone knew that was the deal when we went into it,” she said.
She said the early start was the result of deals made with UVU and BYU announced late last year that call for each campus to pay $1 million annually over 10 years for free transit passes for students and faculty along with their spouses and dependents.
“I think free rides helps people want to try it out.”
UTA Regional General Manager Mary De La Mare-Schaefer
UTA will be able to also provide free fares on the new UVX line over the next three years for everyone, De La Mare-Schaefer said, thanks to a $1.9 million Federal Highway Administration grant to mitigate congestion and improve air quality.
“I think free rides helps people want to try it out,” she said, describing the extra-long articulated buses that seat 40 people and can hold up to 80 passengers overall as rolling advertisements for mass transit in Utah County.
The new bus rapid transit line had been expected to be priced at $2.50 each way. De La Mare-Schaefer said she hopes to see Utah County residents jump on a bus to head to a shopping mall, restaurant, football game or other activity.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Mary DeLaMare-Schaefer, regional general mangers at the Utah Transit Authority, stands in the isle of a hybrid electric articulated bus at the Orem Central FrontRunner station during a test run of the Utah Valley Express on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. The bus rapid transit line service starts Monday.
Whether the system stays free after three years …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News