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UTA set to unveil speedy MAX bus route

UTA set to unveil speedy MAX bus route

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SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah (AP) -- A new kind of public transportation begins Monday in Utah.

The Utah Transit Authority is unveiling a bus called MAX, designed to move people rapidly between Magna and the Millcreek TRAX station.

The bus system will have its own dedicated lanes and make only 14 stops east of Magna, shaving roughly a half-hour off a public transportation route that today takes up to an hour and a half.

Each bus will have three doors and riders will purchase tickets from vending machines at each stop. Like TRAX, riders will be on the honor system. Transit officers will make periodic inspections to make sure riders have tickets.

Starting next year, the buses will have their own lanes in the middle of the street. Covered bus stops will move to street's center.

"The main concept is to get people on it and off it quickly," UTA spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware said.

Bus rapid transit is popular in Europe and South America and is making inroads in North America.

State officials will monitor the popularity of the Magna route and a similar one planned to move Provo riders from Brigham Young University to FrontRunner commuter lines and then decide about adding more dedicated bus lanes.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council, the regional planning authority, will also be watching the new system closely.

Bus rapid transit is a key part of the council's plans for the next 30 years. The system is expected to be used on transportation routes with large numbers of commuters but not enough to warrant light-rail, said Sam Klemm, Wasatch Front spokesman.

In 20 years, regional officials hope to have bus rapid transit going south from the University of Utah and north from Salt Lake City into Davis County, Klemm said.

The MAX is expected to be far cheaper than light-rail along 3500 South. The seven buses, stations and dedicated lanes will cost about $17 million, according to UTA. A TRAX line would run about $100 million.

Las Vegas already has a popular bus rapid transit line, moving 2.5 million riders last year.

"We've heard great things from our riders and we like it so much we're creating a new system that will connect really the entire Las Vegas Valley," said Tracy Bower, Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission spokeswoman.

The idea is also being developed in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif., Eugene, Ore., Kansas City, Mo., and Cleveland.

------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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