The economy is turning around enough that the Utah Transit Authority is starting to think about which bus routes it might restore among those that were cut to make ends meet during the recession as UTA finished expanded TRAX rail lines.
Its board was told Wednesday that UTA is looking at the opening of new FrontRunner commuter rail service from Salt Lake City to Provo in December and the opening of the new airport TRAX line next year as opportunities for a "mini redesign" of its overall system including maybe adding back some eliminated bus routes or night service.
UTA Chief Operating Officer Jerry Benson told the board it will not be a matter of last route cut, first restored but that the agency instead is looking at where holes in service exist and how to best serve the most people, resolve equity issues and improve connections.
"We have been hunkered down for so long that it's refreshing to start thinking at this point about growing service and meeting customers' needs," he told the board.
He asked board members for help in identifying in their communities where service holes or other needs may exist, and involve residents and concerned groups in redesigning the system.
He also noted that UTA has been gathering more and better information about passenger trips through a test that required pass holders to "tap on and tap off" cards on electronic tracking equipment at the beginning and ending of rides, and automatic passenger counters to see how many people board or leave at various locations.
"We hope to take advantage of the [FrontRunner and TRAX] openings coming to do the system changes," Benson said.