Sandy-U line on track for big cuts

UTA » FrontRunner service also being thrown under the bus.
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Looking to shave $2 million off its budget, the Utah Transit Authority said Wednesday it wants to significantly reduce its TRAX and FrontRunner service after April 5.

The direct Sandy-University line will be slashed by 60 percent under the proposal, with no service from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The last Sandy-bound train will leave the University of Utah at 6 p.m. The last university-bound train leaves Sandy at 5 p.m.

Riders will still have the option of transferring between the two other lines, which won't be altered.

Several public open houses will be held in February on the changes.

Weekday FrontRunner trains are proposed to begin operating hourly, instead of every half hour, during midday. Going northbound, there will be hourly service from 8:57 a.m. until 12:57 p.m., as well as after 6:57 p.m. and the last train will depart Salt Lake city about one hour earlier, at 10:57 p.m.

Southbound, hourly service will run from 10:16 a.m. to 3:16 p.m., then from 8:16 p.m. to 11:16 p.m.

Also, there will be one early weekday trip added from Ogden to Salt Lake City at 4:16 a.m., and Saturday's hourly service will operate 30 minutes later.

The FrontRunner changes do not reduce service enough to require public comment before making the shifts; changes that alter 33 percent or more of route service require public comment.

In other action, the Utah Transit Authority is looking to partner with several cities in southwestern Salt Lake County study possible connections between the last stop for the TRAX Mid-Jordan line and the future Draper FrontRunner station on 12800 South.

The possible partnership was announced Wednesday and would include the Utah Department of Transportation and Daybreak-developer Kennecott Land.

The study would look into possible alignments, as well as whether light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcars or another transportation mode would be best to travel through that region.

"There is so much growth in that area that now is the time to protect the alignment," said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter, as well as put any possible service into a long-range plan.

Riverton contains most of the study area and would contribute $80,000 to the study, Herriman and South Jordan would add $10,000 each, and UTA would supply the remaining $100,000 needed for the study, said Carpenter.

The Mid-Jordan TRAX line is expected to be completed in 2011 and is more than 50 percent completed.

UTA, union seek arbitration

The Utah Transit Authority is splitting costs with a labor union for a fact-finder to determine whether UTA should have sought a fact-finder before imposing a new labor contract to union workers.

Last month, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 382, which represents 1,250 UTA workers, threatened legal action after UTA adopted a new labor contract to replace the one expiring Dec. 21. The union had rejected the new proposal 99-1.

Union attorney Joe Hatch argued because the agency receives federal funding it is required to seek an independent arbitrator, paid for by both parties, to resolve any conflicts if it initiates a change to contract terms.

UTA Chief Operating Officer Jerry Benson said the agency acted within its rights because there was an impasse, the contract had expired and the union didn't initiate an independent fact-finding study on the labor dispute and develop a non-binding solution.

The arbitrator hired by the union and UTA will not study the labor dispute, but whether UTA was required to seek a fact-finder before imposing its new labor contract.

Public hearings on proposed TRAX change

Thurs., Feb. 11 » 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Library, main branch, conference room A and B, 210 E. 400 South.

Tues., Feb. 16 » 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the UTA Mobility Center lobby, 4384 S. 50 W., Murray.

Wed., Feb. 17 » 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium Tower, 6th floor conference room, 451 S. 1400 East, Salt Lake City.

To comment » Comments can be sent to UTA no later than Feb. 25 to Brian Skog, UTA Rail Service Center, 613 W. 6960 S., Midvale, Utah, 84047.