Thursday, August 11, 2005

New 30-Foot Buses-Where should they be?

The UTA is now recieving its purchase of the Opus 30-foot bus. These buses are designed for routes that do not have large amounts of ridership or for areas with tight turns and such.

So far UTA has assigned the buses to Ogden and to routes 1 and 2 in Salt Lake. They will also be assigned routes 442 (which will now interline with route 2) and route 23. However I have already seen these buses running route 7.

In one way assigning the buses to routes 1 and 2 make sense. They travel through the avenues and they do have some narrow streets and tight turns on these routes. However, in another way it makes no sense to assign these buses to this route. I have ridden these routes several times and almost every time I ride them they have a large load. Because these routes service LDS Hospital they attract a large amount of people traveling to the hospital in both visitors and employees who ride the bus. In fact, I have seen 40-foot buses run with standing loads on these routes so they will probably have to pass people up with the 30-footers. Relief will come somewhat from reroute route 3 and will give riders more options to reach the hospital.

In fact the question needs to be asked, considering the ridership on these routes are the 30-footers being assigned to this route because of the geography or because of NIMBYism. It seems like in the recent round of changes such as to route 40, the UTA is giving into well off NIMBY's and stabbing their regular riders in the back. Hopefully UTA will not become like Metro in Los Angeles that will do anything a whiny NIMBY wants no matter how much damage it does to bus or rail service.

UTA has needed smaller buses for many years but went by the philosophy of not wanted too many different types of buses. However, this train of thought is quickly loosing favor as transit systems realize that they have to have different buses for different purposes.

Hopefully as UTA gets more of the new buses it will start assigning them to routes that truly should be using them such as the 90/94, 24, 33, 14 (although now interlined with the 20 it won't work), 222, 345, 46 and others.

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