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SALT LAKE CITY — Big changes are coming to Utah Transit Authority's systems as the agency prepares for what it is traditionally its busiest time of the year.
UTA's latest schedule change day will take place on Sunday. The agency's busiest months are typically August, September and October, as school returns to session.
Most of these adjustments are minor; there are several dozen small tweaks to commuter rail, light rail and bus schedules across the system. However, there are some big changes coming to a handful of UTA's bus routes.
Changes to current routes
UTA created two new routes that will be impactful for reaching higher education institutions. Route 1 connects Salt Lake City's west side with the University of Utah Hospital, while Route 602 cuts across the Weber State University campus in Ogden.
Routes 47, 205, 209, 213, 217 and F453 all have new routes, some of which absorb routes that the agency has decided to discontinue. This includes the end of Routes 3 and 6 in Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood, in favor of Routes 1, 209 and 223 — a change that residents had mixed feelings about earlier this year after the plan was first revealed, citing concerns about increased traffic.
Eric Callison, UTA's manager of service planning, explained earlier this year that changes were proposed in an effort to meet slowly recovering ridership demand while also addressing staff shortages that are plaguing the agency. The agency is currently short about 60 bus drivers in the Salt Lake County service area, UTA spokesman Carl Arky said on Monday, after staff shortages resulted in some light rail service disruptions.
This month's changes also add the new Vineyard Station to FrontRunner's schedule, but that won't be included until the station is ready to open. UTA Board of Trustees Chairman Carlton Christensen told KSL.com in June that the station's opening was delayed by traffic control issues related to a road leading into the station, which the agency had hoped would be settled before the Sunday change day.
UTA on Demand expands
Meanwhile, UTA On Demand, the agency's micro-transit service, is set to launch in southern Davis and Tooele counties beginning on Monday, providing service in Bountiful, Centerville, Grantsville, North Salt Lake, Stansbury Park, Tooele, West Bountiful and Woods Cross.
On Demand is sort of a hybrid between public transportation and a rideshare service because riders use an app to hail a van that takes them to locations within their service areas at the same $2.50 cost for a regular bus ride. It already exists in southern Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City's west side.
The service also seems to be growing in popularity since it became a permanent fixture in the UTA transportation fold last year, jumping from 328 average weekday boardings during its first month, August 2021, to 694 in June, per the agency's ridership data. That's nearly a 112% increase in almost a year.
Permanently discontinued routes
UTA is also discontinuing 22 bus routes beginning on Sunday, though half had already been suspended when the agency reduced services in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the routes will be picked up by another form of coverage, either through other routes that were extended or through UTA On Demand.
- Route 3: Replaced by Route 223
- Route 6: Replaced by Routes 1 and 209
- Route 35M: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route 41: Replaced by Route 47
- Route 307: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route 313: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route 320: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route 354: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route F400: Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route F402: Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 456
- Route 460: Suspended in 2020; Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 461: Suspended in 2020; Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 462: Suspended in 2020; Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 463: Suspended in 2020; Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 471: Suspended in 2020; Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 519: Replaced by UTA on Demand; Routes 1 and 205
- Route 520: Replaced by UTA on Demand; Routes 1 and 205
- Route F605: Replaced by UTA On Demand
- Route 608: Suspended in 2020, won't return
- Route 919: Replaced by UTA on Demand; Routes 1 and 205
- Route 920: Replaced by UTA on Demand; Routes 1 and 205
All of the upcoming changes to public transit systems can be found here.