Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has launched Service Choices, a public conversation about the future of bus service in the big “Wasatch Front” metro area that includes Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden, and everything around and between them. We worked with UTA to develop the survey, and we’ll be helping them figure out how to develop a new vision for the bus network based on what they year. Salt Lake Tribune covers the kickoff here.
The big question, of course, is the ridership-coverage trade-off. Utah Transit Authority covers a huge area, with many suburban cities at a range of densities. Spreading bus service over all of that area (to meet a coverage goal) would spread the service very thin, meaning poor frequencies and thus a service that not many people would find useful. Concentrating service in high-density places, so that you can run high frequency there, is the key to a ridership goal, but that means no service to vast low-density areas. We explain it in detail here.
As in the concurrent Cleveland study, we’re also asking about how coverage service should be deployed. Given that UTA is going to run a certain amount of predictably low-ridership service for non-ridership reasons, should the priority for that service be:
- addressing severe needs and equity? This would focus coverage service on places of low income, high senior population or other indicator of need.
- serving new horizontal development? This would put service into newly developing area while they are still under construction.
- providing a little service to everyone? This would spread the service thinnest of all, but responds to the “we pay taxes too” argument for service.
The online survey is the most powerful way for lots of people to give us feedback, but there will also be putlic meetings and other outreach events, which will be posted here.
Please encourage everyone you know in the greater Wasatch Front area to engage with this study. This outreach is not just for bus riders! UTA works for every resident, every business, and every taxpayer, so everyone’s opinion counts.