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Utah Transit Authority has decided that to afford opening new TRAX lines in western Salt Lake County in August, it must reduce bus service. But it's asking riders to help it choose between two key remaining options for its redesigned system.

Option 1 is a proposal to increase the current frequency of weekday buses — but to pay for it by dumping all Sunday bus service and cutting Saturday buses significantly. TRAX weekend service would continue.

Option 2 would roughly maintain the current frequency of weekday buses and preserve, but slightly reduce, most weekend routes.

"This is the first time we have ever brought two scenarios to the public for their feedback," said UTA General Manager Michael Allegra. "Both scenarios meet our budget [and] result in increased ridership and better cost efficiencies."

Under both options, some westside bus routes will be eliminated because of the new TRAX Mid-Jordan and West Valley light-rail lines scheduled to open Aug. 7. Other routes will be realigned to meet the TRAX lines, while hours will be altered on some routes. Some "fast bus" routes will be converted to "express" buses that charge higher fares.

UTA has scheduled eight public hearings on the service changes and will accept comments through March 31. Maps and route-by-route descriptions of changes under different options are available on the UTA's website,

Lorin Simpson, UTA's regional manager for Salt Lake County, said that coupling the new TRAX lines with the option of dumping most weekend bus service to increase weekday service would expand overall ridership an estimated 9 or 10 percent.

He said the other option would expand it by an estimated 7 percent.

UTA said on its website: "During more robust economic times, UTA has been able to open rail lines and maintain the same amount of bus service. However, with the ongoing economic recession, UTA is under the greatest financial pressure in its history," so it is trimming bus service to afford expanded TRAX service.

UTA is also in a comment period on a proposal to raise most of its base bus and rail fares by 25 percent in May.

On Wednesday, UTA also announced revised configurations for its TRAX system when the new lines begin service.

The new Mid-Jordan line will begin in the Daybreak area of South Jordan and run to the University of Utah.

UTA will discontinue current direct lines between Sandy and the university and between the university and the Salt Lake Central Station. Riders on the Sandy and West Valley lines wanting to go to the university may transfer at the Courthouse Station.

The new West Valley line will run from the West Valley Intermodal Hub near Valley Fair Mall to Salt Lake Central Station. The existing Salt Lake/Sandy line will continue to operate between Sandy Civic Center and Salt Lake Central Station. —

Public hearings on UTA service changes

P March 8 • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Gould Auditorium, Marriott Library, University of Utah

March 8 • 5 to 7 p.m., Cottonwood Heights City Hall, 1265 E. Fort Union Blvd., Suite 250

March 9 • 5 to 7 p.m., Riverton City Hall, 12830 S. Redwood Road

March 15 • 5 to 7 p.m., South Valley School, 8400 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan

March 16 • 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Student Union, University of Utah, 200 S. Central Campus Drive

March 16 • 5 to 7 p.m., UTA headquarters, 669 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

March 17 • 5 to 7 p.m., West Valley City Hall, 3600 S. Constitution Blvd.

March 22 • 6 to 8 p.m., Grantsville City Hall, 429 E. Main St.

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