Image via WikipediaOne of the weaknesses of the UTA system is the buses. They cost more to operate than light rail and do not attract the number of choice riders that TRAX light rail does. So what can UTA do to improve its bus system and make it attract more choice riders?
UTA needs to look at what Portland is doing on its busiest routes. Since we are stuck with the Low Floor buses that are inferior to the high floors, UTA like Tri-Met in Portland needs to take advantage of them.
What Portland did was go route by route and assign the low floor buses to their busiest routes that will take advantage of the faster loading and unloading. In addition they reduced the number of bus stops (but still keeping them close together), and adjusted the sidewalks and curves to make getting in and out of the low floors as seamless as can be.
This gives the best invest for the dollar short of building streetcar or light rail systems. It speeds up the buses and is more attractive to choice riders.
Among the routes that would be perfect opportunities for this kind of investment is the 8, 9, 22, 30, 31, 39, 40, 70, 603, 612, and the 830 (probably this route will be served more by this than the BRT scheme).
Expansion of TRAX is very important, but still is maintaining and increasing ridership on the bus routes.