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UTA changes route times for Sugar House buses

Thursday, February 16, 20121436 views

The Utah Transit Authority’s “Change Day” in December was considered a minor one, but it left some residents stranded. Changes to mass transit are taken care of during the UTA’s Change Day, which occurs three times a year.

Due to a disability, Rawlins Young is reliant on buses. He is also a member of the Sugar House Community Council. Their meetings don’t get over until 9 p.m. and the route that usually takes him home no longer runs past 8:30 p.m.

He’s not the only one who’s been stranded after a meeting. Soren Simonsen was at a Salt Lake City Council meeting downtown in December after Change Day. The meeting ended at 8:30 p.m., so he took TRAX out to the Central Point bus stop. By the time he arrived, he’d missed the last bus and had to take a three mile walk home.

 “The vast majority of changes were done in August,” Carpenter said, explaining that there were only a few changes to the schedule in December. Changes are always displayed in advance for the public, he said.

Before the recession, the UTA projected that they would get $266 million in revenue from sales tax for 2012. The actual budget ended up being $185 million, said spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

To deal with the shortfall, they had to make several budget cuts. Two thirds of the cuts were internal, including hiring freezes, restructuring, and layoffs. The other third resulted in changes in service.

“My biggest issue is not with the change of service, but that public notice of the change in routes wasn’t available,” Simonsen said. He had checked online that day, but nothing had been posted. It wasn’t until Thursday, five days after Change Day, that the new routes were listed.

Due to the new changes, Simonsen can’t find any bus that runs after 8:30 p.m. within 1.5 miles of his home. He has received a dozen complaints himself from residents about the decline in bus service.

Simonsen has voiced a complaint through the UTA hotline, but is considering writing a formal letter. He is aware of the budget issues, but is hoping that they’ll be able to figure out a better solution. It seems like even more evening service has changed, he said. He wants to make sure Westminster students, residents and business owners aren’t left stranded in the evening.

He’s not the only one working toward getting the word out. Young is working with the rest of the Sugar Huose Community Council Transportation Committee to come up with a proposal to restore service. Once the proposal done, they will bring it to the Sugar House Community Council for a vote of support.

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