14 Questions You Might Be Asking About Provo’s Bus Rapid Transit

I strive to avoid long blog posts but this issue needs a little more information than your run-of-the-mill post.
The future of Provo’s transportation will be discussed tomorrow night. The way we operate moving forward in the context of transportation — getting around town, parking, future congestion, air quality — could receive a huge endorsement or could succumb to proverbial speed bumps.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 28 from 6-9 pm in the Council Chamber, a discussion will take place on the merits of Bus and Rapid Transit (BRT) and the alignment plans for Provo. This will be an opportunity for residents to come and listen to comments and presentations that will educate and outline what’s happened and why the conclusions have been reached by the interested parties.  My hope is that we’ll learn about the importance of taking public transportation in Provo to the next level and the problems a robust system has the potential to solve.

Presenters will include plans and feedback from Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Provo’s Transportation and Mobility Advisory Committee (TMAC), and the BRT Area 1 Stakeholder Working Group.

Following the presentations there will be a panel discussion led by Council Member Gary Garrett. Members of the public are encouraged to offer feedback and comment on this issue by leaving a comment below or connecting directly with their Council representative (see here).
Provo City and UTA have been working for a long time on getting a Bus Rapid Transit system in Orem and Provo. It’s one of the several modes of transportation that would connect at the intermodal hub near downtown Provo. A BRT line has been on the table for years and a determination was made 4 years ago to allow bus rapid transit to originate at our mall, head to orem and return. It would have stops at or near UVU, the University Mall in Orem, BYU, downtown Provo, and the Provo Towne Centre.
Rumors have been stirring as this opportunity for public comment has come closer. Below we take on some of those rumors in the form of a BRT FAQ. Please thumb through it and let me know how you feel and if you have additional questions.
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The Project in General

1— What is the project? 

The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) are proposing to build a bus rapid transit (BRT) system through Provo and Orem.  The Provo-Orem BRT is a multimodal project that addresses transit as well as roadway infrastructure needs.  The preferred alternative, as defined through the environmental assessment process, completed in 2011, connects the Orem Intermodal Center, Utah Valley University, the University Mall area, Brigham Young University, high density student housing areas, downtown Provo, the Provo Intermodal Center, the Provo Towne Centre Mall and the East Bay Business Park.  The buses will travel about half of the route in dedicated lanes with signal prioritization.

2— Why BRT instead of light rail? 

BRT is often called “light rail on rubber tires.”  The cost of building a BRT route is about 1/3 the cost of light rail due to high infrastructure costs.  BRT is expected to have about 13,000 riders per day and will traverse the route in about 38 minutes.  At its capacity, BRT will take some 5,000 car trips off the local roadways, decreasing congestion and pollution.

3— Why will people ride BRT? 

BRT buses are expected to run in 5-7 minute intervals during peak hours and 10-15 minute intervals in non-peak periods.  The proposed route allows BRT to travel the distance in  5-10 minutes less than can be traveled by car.  BRT is fast, in part, because fares are paid off the vehicle at stations or via prepaid fare cards.  The BRT stations have elevated platforms, so riders enter the buses without climbing steps, speeding the on and off boarding process.  With vehicles coming in short intervals and connecting to FrontRunner, local buses and key destinations in Provo and Orem, riding mass transit in the Provo-Orem area will be more convenient than ever.

4— How much will BRT cost and where will the money come from? 

The BRT project is estimated to cost $150 million.  About half of the cost will come from the Federal Transit Administration, whose program is capped at $75 million per project.  The local match of $75 million will come from transit taxes already being paid and collected in Utah County.  Any funding required beyond the current estimated $150 million will be in excess of existing transit tax funds collected and would need to come from other sources like bonds, taxes or fees. In addition, the Provo-Orem BRT project is competing with other transit projects across the United States for these grants, and route changes, lack of community support and increased costs can significantly hurt the chances that the project will be funded at the federal level.

5— How was the preferred alignment established? 

UTA, UDOT, Provo City, Orem City and the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) conducted dozens of public outreach meetings between 2008 and 2011 during the process of preparing the Environmental Assessment (EA) for this project, which is required if a community is seeking federal funding for the project.   Hundreds of area residents and business owners participated in scoping meetings, open houses, and public hearings.  The process culminated in the issuance of the EA in 2011, and resolutions from UTA, the Provo and Orem City Councils and MAG to adopt the locally preferred alignment.

6— Will the BRT hurt Provo and help Orem economically? 

Most of the major shopping areas in both communities will have BRT stops (University Mall, Provo Towne Centre Mall, downtown Provo, ShopKo and Walmart Neighborhood Grocer).  In addition, larger employment centers in Provo and Orem will be connected to BRT, making moving people to and from shopping and employment easier.  Because BRT serves all of these areas equally, it will likely not change existing shopping patterns in a significant way.

7—What is Provo City’s role in selecting the BRT route alignment? 

Part of the criteria for the federally funded grant is community support.  The existing resolutions approved by the Provo and Orem City Council in 2010 were part of the process of demonstrating community support.  In addition, if changes are made to roadways owned by the City (East Bay Boulevard, Towne Centre Boulevard, 200 West, 920 South, 700 North, 700 East, 900 North and 900 East) or if property needs to be acquired through eminent domain on these streets, the City would need to grant permission.  But for routes on roadways owned by the State of Utah (University Avenue and University Parkway), the City has no specific involvement on the route proposed other than demonstrating community support for the overall project.

8— What is the current status of the project? 

Preliminary engineering has begun on the project, which has been funded by existing transportation taxes levied by Utah County.  Various stakeholder groups have been convened to discuss technical aspects of making the route work as effectively as possible.  UTA has begun meeting with the Federal Transit Administration, including a recent tour of the preferred route with the FTA administrator.   If all proceeds as outlined, the project will be formally submitted for funding within a few months.  Delays in the preliminary engineering, including significant route changes, would push back the funding of the project and reduce the probability that the project will be competitively selected for federal grant funds.

About Alternative Alignments

9— What have been the concerns about the route alignment on 900 East? 

Initially, the preferred alignment included 900 East from 700 North to University Parkway in a dedicated lane, center running alignment.  As residents living east of 900 East began to express concerns about the project, they included:

  • Concerns about the center dedicated lanes, preventing left turns into and out of driveways and streets connecting to 900 East
  • Concerns about placement of a station near the BYU Creamery on Ninth and the proximity of the station to Wasatch Elementary School
  • Concerns about bicycle and pedestrian safety with the BRT buses running along and stopping on 900 East

Because of those concerns, UTA and Provo City began collaborating on ways to enhance public safety related to the BRT route on 900 East.  During the review of the route with the UTA stakeholder group, the BRT project team agreed to:

  • Eliminate the dedicated center-running lanes on 900 East and have the BRT bus run in mixed traffic, thus allowing more freedom to make left turns
  • Eliminate the planned stop at the Creamery on Ninth in favor of stops on University Parkway near the new expanded MTC and on 900 North near East Campus Drive to pick up riders to and from BYU
  • Add a ten foot wide multiuse path on the east sides and west sides of 900 East from 900 North to University Parkway so that bicycles and pedestrians can be safer and separated from vehicle traffic on 900 East.  A similar path on South State Street was recently installed for similar purposes.  Much of the west side multiuse path has already been constructed adjacent to BYU.

However, despite these significant changes to the project, many residents living east of 900 East still remain opposed to the 900 East alignment, and have proposed a new alignment which would bring the route east on 700 North, north on 900 East to 900 North, then back west along 800 North and the north on University Avenue to University Parkway.  The UTA stakeholder group forwarded this alignment to UTA for further consideration.

10— Why is the BRT team concerned about the suggested new alignment? 

There are several reasons.

  • It increases the time it takes to run the route by a little over 2 minutes
  • It does not increase ridership
  • It increases potential conflicts with pedestrian crossings on 800 North and University Avenue
  • It does not meet the needs of the Missionary Training Center, the BYU Conference Center and the Heritage Housing Complex at BYU, all significant ridership generators
  • It eliminates on-street parking on 800 North, pushing 96 commuter vehicles into adjoining neighborhoods
  • It adds almost $11 million to the cost of the project, which cannot be funded out of existing tax revenues.  This may in reality make the kill the project entirely or limit it to an “Orem to BYU project” only which can operate exclusively on state highways without involving the City and be built within existing resources.
  • Despite assertions to the contrary, it does not meet better the needs of UVRMC (the hospital).  With the University Avenue alignment, it is 6 blocks walking from the nearest station to the center of the hospital campus.  With the 900 East alignment, it is 8 blocks walking to the center of the hospital campus from the closest station, or just about 2 blocks further.  The Utah Valley Transit Plan includes another proposed BRT or light rail route along 500 West/State Street, which will include a station right at UVRMC within the next few years.

11— Will the proposed multi-use path or the BRT route on 900 East require homes to be taken and torn down? 

No.  The multi-use path can be mostly built within existing right of way.  Where right of way is needed, it can be secured for the project without eliminating any structures.  However, the 800 North alignment will require two homes to be condemned and residents relocated.

12— Will a BRT alignment on 900 East result in redevelopment and higher density development in the neighborhood? 

No.  Studies and experience have shown that higher density development only occurs on transit routes when the guideways (rail or dedicated lanes) are fixed.  Because BRT on 900 East runs in mixed traffic and the guideways are not fixed, the development community can’t count on the route being there long term and are not likely to invest in higher density housing.   In addition, the city’s zoning ordinance for the property in private ownership east of 900 East limits the uses in the area to single family uses.

13— Will a BRT alignment on 900 East negatively impact public safety? 

No.  With the safety improvements already proposed along the route, safety should actually be enhanced.  Many of the 5,000 vehicles removed from roadways in Provo and Orem would have traversed 900 East.  By removing these typically younger and often distracted drivers from the roadways and replacing them with a well-trained, experienced and licensed transit driver, safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be improved.  Fewer vehicle trips per day along the route will decrease congestion and improve safety.

14— Why wasn’t Freedom Boulevard selected as the preferred route instead of University Avenue?  

Freedom Boulevard from the Intermodal Center to 700 North was evaluated extensively in the 2010 and 2011 timeframe.  One of the key objectives of the BRT project was to maximize ridership (reducing other vehicle trips as much as possible) while still keeping costs within acceptable guidelines to secure federal funding.  The costs associated with the Freedom Boulevard alignment were significantly greater than those on University Avenue, largely because Freedom would need to be widened to maintain traffic (pedestrian and vehicle) flows and accommodate the center running, two way BRT lanes.  Even under the best scenario, the project costs went up substantially and ridership actually reduced.  The UTA and MAG analysis even included the as-yet-unbuilt convention center and recreation center but the numbers still were not substantially changed.   The additional costs associated with the Freedom alignment did not increase ridership, and with the cost per rider going up significantly, the ability to get federal funds was seriously compromised.

Alignment Options

Option 3 Option 4 Option 6

 

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  1. Karen

    Thank you for taking these public transportation needs into consideration! I’m looking forward to seeing things underway!

  2. Jesse Thomas

    Yet again the folks on 900 E are worried about their ‘small town’ Provo being ruined by development–thanks for blocking the MTC expansion right before the missionary influx by the way. Provo’s substantial growth over the next 20 years is inevitable, and we will need smart development for the best interests of the future.

    Last summer I was working on advocating BRT lines in suburban DC and we saw the same ‘concerns’ from neighborhoods against the project. It turned out that the majority of citizens supported the project and it got approved despite the complaints. The one that really gets me is the concerns of ped safety. Currently, 900 E is ANYTHING but pleasant to walk on at almost any point. I rode my bike down it for several months and it was a miserable ride. Creating multi-modal streets in Provo is the way to improve connectivity, safety, health, and competitiveness.

    Here are some of the ways BRT is helping peds in suburban DC: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/19097/pedestrians-will-benefit-from-montgomery-brt/

    1. Steve

      Just two points in reply.
      First, the folks who are expressing concerns with BRT coming down 900 East are generally not the same folks who expressed concerns with the MTC expansion. If you looked at the proposed BRT route carefully you would notice that it affects a different neighborhood.
      Second, no one I know who lives East of 900 East is suggesting that it is ped friendly, bike friendly or pleasant in any way. Many of us walk to work and school every day and are well aware of the problems. We are not in love with the status quo, but we don’t want to see it get worse. When BYU finishes closing its streets to through traffic there will be many more cars on 900 East. With little likelihood that BRT will remove those cars we see more congestion with the big buses running with the rest of the added traffic.
      900 East is a boundary we cross every day to get in and out of our neighborhoods, and we have every right to be concerned about the impact BRT will have.

    2. Jared Rossean

      Provo is not Suburban DC. The problem is, there are only two reason to use mass transit; convenience or cost. Since we don’t pay for parking anywhere in Provo and we don’t have traffic (real traffic), mass transit is going to struggle to have an impact. I think that you are right about my neighbors overreacting about the impact. The only real reason to do this is because it could improve our air quality, but good luck selling that here. We just aren’t a big enough place to need this.

      Ask yourself one important question: without the Federal Grant, would this be a good investment today? I don’t think so. I could be wrong, but after reading the available information, that’s my take.

      1. Brooke

        Jared, the population in Provo is expected to double over the next 10 or so years. Traffic is a problem in Provo, as is pedestrian/cyclist safety and air quality. Utah county residents are more concerned with the bad air then you think. Provo’s air quality was the worst in the nation last week. The MAX BRT will bring people downtown, helping the economy. Yes this would be a good investment without the federal grant. Without the grant the air would still be toxic.

      2. Jesse Thomas

        Traffic is getting worse. Driving from UVU to BYU on a Friday afternoon/evening is no picnic. If I were still a BYU student, I would prefer to go meet a friend at University Mall or go to an event at UVU without having to worry about the traffic jam I would be in and parking in humongous parking lots. But my decision would depend on reliability, speed, and cost. BRT can offer the reliability and speed. BYU can offer subsidized transit (instead of the subsidized parking they currently offer) to make the cost low.

        I don’t think it is a good idea to have 60,000 students in Provo/Orem all need to have a car to be able to get around comfortably. I think it is a good investment for the future growth of Provo, Fed Grant or not. If the Feds are offering, I think Provo should jump on that.

      3. Roland

        Jared, you are not wrong. This is a very poor solution to OUR problems. There is already slightly utilized free bus options for travel between UVU and BYU and any thoughtful person can see this will eliminate an irrelevant percentage of our vehicle traffic. On top of that it will cause greater air pollution because vehicles on the University Parkway corridor (the only one like it) will be more congested with 2 less lanes of traffic. This means cars will go much slower through congested traffic; more vehicles running longer is more air pollution. TRAX has never approached the projected ridership and this will not either. This is an easy sell to businesses along this devastating pathway, but people won’t ride it because they aren’t heading to those businesses or down that path.

        It is also silly to link a Suburban DC article that is a projection of what might happen and say that it is “helping” them instead of “may help” them.

  3. Shannon M

    I know there probably hasn’t been much discussion about fare rates, but are they going to be at all similar to what is required on the bus routes we have now, or will they be reduced (whether for the public or through contracts with places of employment/school/other institutions)?
    I would gladly commute from Downtown Provo up to UVU on the BRT system, but only if it were a financially feasible option. For a bus pass through the school, I would have to pay $70. I paid $50 for a parking pass this semester, and have used the free lot every other semester for four years. Many students can’t afford the extra $20.
    If the fares are the same as they are now, a lot of students like myself would rather pay less to park at school than get a more expensive pass that may or may not be as convenient.

    1. John

      Shannon – I’m not sure what the fare will be. My guess is that it will depend on how far you go similar to how you pay for Front Runner.

      As soon as those numbers are available, I’ll put them here first.

      -John

      1. Shannon M

        Thank you so much! It’s exciting to see something like this in the works, especially with the air quality issues lately.

      2. Karen

        We often live in Provo for the summer months. We got used to the lower rates where we are now ($1/ride, $2/day, kids under 12 free) and it was hard to get ourselves to use the bus in Provo this past summer. We usually walked it instead, even if it was several miles.

        I know that higher rates recoup costs, but they can also discourage people to use it often. I’m sure that finding a perfect price is a hard thing to figure out, but I thought I’d just mention our experience for what it was worth. Thanks!

    2. Ben

      Include fuel cost in your calculations–I think BRT gets about equal or better

      1. Brooke

        One More thing Shannon, its $50 a semester to park at UVU. Thats $100 a year. The UTA pass is $70 a year, so you’re actually saving money on parking alone. Thats not even including gas, which you will probably spend over $100 in one month. Public transportation is always cheaper.

      2. Craig S

        Brooke, the UTA pass at UVU is heavily subsidized. An adult monthly pass is $83.75 and that only lets you ride the regular busses (no frontrunner or express busses). With UTA’s prices public transportation is only occasionally cheaper without subsidies.

      3. Jesse Thomas

        Craig S, all the more reason to put transit where there are Universities! We have two huge ones within a couple miles.

      4. Brooke

        Craig, I pay $70 a year for the UVU UTA pass that includes bus, trax, frontrunner, and hopefully soon- max. http://www.uvu.edu/campusconnection/services/buspass.html But even without the UVU pass, $83.75 a month is really cheap. Compared to driving and spending 100+ month on gas.

      5. Brooke

        But I do agree that public transpiration should be cheaper, I was just commenting on how silly of a thought it is for a UVU student to choose driving instead of riding UTA for financial reasons.

  4. Dave

    If we wanted a Light Rail instead, and just waited longer to gather funds. Would we loose the opportunity to get the 75,000,000 from Federal funding? Ogden got a trolly, SLC got the Trax and we are getting a bus? I will say it is a pretty cool bus though. But if we could get a Trax line instead and just have to wait for a while. I would think its better to spend the money on something like that. “If we can Wait”

    1. Dave

      Also, what is the chance of turning it into a light rail in the future? Could this be a nice stepping stone to get us by for a while?

    2. John

      Dave – Come to the meeting tomorrow and you’ll get a better idea of what the bus can do. Much of the route will have dedicated lanes meaning the bus isn’t sharing with other vehicles. This is much less expensive than light rail and rune very efficiently.

      -John

  5. Benjamin

    Having been a resident for 28 years give or take. Anything to improve the headache that is 900 east is a great idea. Stick with the current alignment planned. I would use it many times daily rather than have to deal with what is currently the nightmare that it has become. I am sure there are many who feel the same way. It needs to be done for the growth and benefit of Provo. I prefer light rail but this is a viable alternative.

  6. Leo

    Super unfortunate. A center-running BRT line on 900 East with its own dedicated lane is not a bad thing by any stretch. I find it lamentable that a small but vocal faction of area residents find efficient transit so detestable—because this is reducing how effective the BRT project is as a whole.

    1. Steve

      We don’t find efficient transit detestable–that is a dishonest argument. Most of the people I know who live in the 900 East neighborhoods are in favor of BRT. But we have real concerns about the proposed route.

  7. Dave

    Is this going to take away parking on University Ave?

    1. John

      Dave – Come to the open house/forum tomorrow evening and get most of your questions answered.

      -John

  8. Craig S

    I like the current alignment over the proposed. It gives better access to pretty much everyone. I like the addition of a path on 9th east, but I would prefer bike lanes.
    I would definitely like to have the talks about the fares happen soon. I think public transit needs to be more affordable than driving in order to be benefit the whole community. But right now I only use public transit occasionally for convenience.

  9. Karen

    Is there talk yet of perhaps making a deal with BYU dorms, where the price of an unlimited pass would be included in the cost of housing? That would be some steady, guaranteed money for the BRT plus train up a group of students who would be used to riding the bus, and likely continue to do so once they leave the dorms.

    1. John

      Karen – We haven’t started talking about any of those details yet. I can guess that those types of conversations would be good to have at some point.

      Thanks for looking at the blog and commenting.

      -John

  10. John

    I’m a little tired of what amounts to ‘fear mongering’ from the Wasatch elementary PTA. There was nothing wrong with the stop near the Creamery on ninth for the regular buses, there was nothing wrong with that stop for the Bus Rapid Transit. What feels like it amounts to, underneath the surface, is them not wanting the ‘riff raff’ that ride the buses near the school – a totally unfounded and rude basis for their stand.

    On top of that, they are demanding that the school be rebuilt now, and are proposing that it be moved even further away from 900 East than it already is. Seems to fly in the face of the stop being too close to the school, long term.

    I can’t be there Tuesday, I have another commitment, but put my vote down for leaving the BRT route the way it was laid out, complete with a stop at the creamery, and don’t let a small vocal minority of tree street people block what is best for the city as a whole.

    1. Steve

      Actually there were very real things wrong with locating a major bus stop within 50 yards of Wasatch elementary school. 1) Studies showing an increase in respiratory disease among children in schools close to bus stops (not from fuel exhaust but dust particulates kicked up by frequent stops) 2) Wasatch is a fairly vulnerable school in terms of access 3) children walking to and from every day. the concern isn’t bus “riff-raff’ but the very real problem of providing easy access for anyone who wants to get close to accessible children. Sorry, those are real issues.

      1. Matt

        “studies show blah blah blah” yeah since cars don’t pollute at all. Also do you know what provides much easier access for people who want to assault children? Cars. It is very hard to abduct someone and get away quick if you’re using the bus.

  11. Matt S.

    Is the reduction in construction costs really worth it? Ridership is significantly lower on bus type transportation compared to light rail. I may be wrong but that’s all I heard from the nationwide studies we learned about in transportation courses as a Civil Engineer at BYU. Salt lake is a prime example of people riding light rail and actually using public transportation

  12. Larry

    Bring back the station at Creamery on Ninth. Nobody’s going to walk from Univ. Pkwy.

  13. Matthew Sheets

    This is pretty exciting! Having lived in Ukraine where similar systems are predominant*, I believe that a system like this could be very successful, primarily because of the greatly reduced wait times! Thank you for helping to make public transportation into an increasingly viable option along the Wasatch front!

    *The transport vehicles are known as маршрутки (marshrutki); though they do not run in their own lanes, it is a similar sounding system in a number of ways and I’ve often felt that something similar should be explored more extensively in the United States. It’s essentially a system of smaller, more frequent buses.

  14. Richard

    Having served an LDS Mission in Curitiba, Brazil… I can attest that a BRT system is very efficient. Curitiba has an extensive BRT line that is very well integrated into the transportation infrastructure in that city. Provo will be very well served by a BRT system… though I wish the route was more extensive.

  15. Spencer

    I’m excited for BRT, but I also am concerned that Provo believes that widening a sidewalk is sufficient infrastructure for cyclists. Every cyclist I know would prefer a 5ft wide protected bike lane next to a 5ft wide sidewalk over a 10ft wide multi-use path. (and I bet walking families with strollers would agree)

    1. Matt W

      Amen! I rode my bike down 900 E many times while at attending BYU and later when we bought a home south of Center Street. I would never dream of riding my bike on a side walk, you are just too difficult to see for drivers. I often would just take up the whole right lane for fear of someone taking a right turn in front of me (too many close calls in Provo). Bikes do not belong on side walks and on that down hill stretch I was going nearly 25 MPH anyway, not a good thing on a sidewalk next to people with strollers. And a reminder to other cyclists, please ride on the right side of the street, not the left, you are nearly impossible to see when making left turns.

  16. Trace

    What a waste of 75 million- which will probably turn into 100 million.

    UTA has never shown it can come ever remotely close to being profitable or even sustainable without huge government subsidies.

    36 minutes from Provo Mall to UVU? (After waiting 5-20 minutes for a bus) Whoopeedo. You could almost walk it in that amount of time.

    Does this idea make transportation more affordable, more convenient, or more efficient? No, no, and no.

  17. Sorrel

    I think students would gladly walk from the Creamery. I don’t know how many would chug up the hill from 900 N in winter and in summer. The aversion of a few whiners about their children’s school being too close to ‘bus people’ suggests a snobbery that ought to have died in the ’60’s.

  18. Steve

    I think that BRT is potentially a great thing for Provo, but it needs to be done the right way to succeed. The heart and soul of BRT is having dedicated lanes for the buses to travel in–otherwise they get stuck in traffic like any other vehicle. And Provo City, not the residents of the tree streets, decided that dedicated lanes will not work on the 900 East route. So the most workable proposal seems to be the route that comes down 700 North or uses both 700 N and 800 N. There are issues there as well but at least the dedicated lane can work.

  19. R. Paul Evans

    How about posting maps of the two options?

    1. John

      Hi Paul,

      I have included maps of each route on this blog post.

  20. Lisa

    This would be a fantastic option for those of us on the fringe of effective and timely transportation routes. My only concern is that the fare will be higher than I am willing to pay for the convenience.

  21. Kristen

    I can’t make it tonight, but I am in favor of the BRT system. A spotty mass transit infrastructure is a huge deterrent to ridership. I would love to have easy and reliable access to mass transit nearby. I think 900 East would greatly benefit from BRT running along it. The concession of having them run with traffic instead of dedicated center lanes seems to be a good compromise with the neighbors.

  22. Emily L.

    I watched the meeting tonight on tv and thought there was a great discussion.

    It sounds like those opposed to option 4 and alt. option 4 in the tree streets say “we want BRT, just not in our backyard.” Because even with the changes to option 4 (no stop at the creamery, no dedicated lane, improved sidewalks) … they still want option 6.

    I think it is important to realize that there will not ever be a perfect solution that fits all the concerns of the tree streets and serves the whole city better. The only benefit of option 6 is that it satisfies all the concerns of the tree streets but it greatly negatively impacts 800 N and the BRT system as a whole. I dont think we can justify option 6. I’m in favor of option 4.

    I’m curious how the public comment will affect the project in the coming months. What’s next?

  23. KBA

    For some unexplained reason, I few whiny households on the east side have a complete strangle hold on the city government’s throats. They don’t want the 900 E BART route because they feel it will destroy their precious neighborhoods…the same neighborhoods they say are overwhelmed by students parking their cars in the streets. These are the same people that cried and got entire school boundaries changed so they could keep what they deemed the ‘poor rif raff’ from attending the same schools as their privileged children. If you want to see what these few people truly espouse, go take a tour of Provo High and Timpview. It’s a classic case of the haves and the have-nots. They bawled a little louder and managed to keep the much needed MTC expansion from happening because the bottom 5% of their view of the valley might be compromised. Never mind that those living on the west side have to stomach the sight of their ugly homes scarring the foothills of the Wasatch mountains. Bottom line is that the city counsel needs to grow a backbone and not become beholden to the interests of a very small minority who happen to have deep pockets.

  24. Keli

    The papers we had last night at the meeting I think are misleading. It said that ridership right now is 3000 and with the BRT it would increase to 13000 I am wondering how it jumped up so high? Where are the 10000 people going to be coming from? Also one lady stated that she rode on public transportation all the time at the U but then stated it was free. If it was here she would ride it too. It doesn’t sound like it will be free here in provo so, will students really pay the money? Another person said they would take there family to the grocery store using the BRT which I am not sure I really believe that. I am a mother of 5 kids it is hard enough to go to the store with them in my Van let alone trekking them done to wait for a bus and then watch them on the bus and have all my groceries on the bus back home. Plus pay for the bus for all of them to go. I just don’t see people really doing that. 900 east is just not wide enough for the bigger wider buses. If you drive down 900 east with a UTA bus next to you right it is a tight squeeze. They said last night the BRT buses are wider??? How is it going to fit.

  25. Matt

    Excellent idea that has been needed here for years. I only like light rail because there is no traffic, and so with a station at LaVelle Edwards Stadium and other crowded places, Provo wouldn’t be so backed up all the time. I’d take this to work every single day in Orem if it were built already.

  26. MIke

    Boiling it down to the simplest terms, I think the decision we have to make today, is do we want BRT NOW? The simple choice is Yes or No! If the answer is yes, then route 4 around BYU and down 9th east is the ONLY option. If we do NOT want BRT now, then we have a host of choices all of which will require more time, gathering support, finding funding, getting additional environmental studies, etc. etc. And, we basically start the process all over.

    Let me postulate an analogy, which may not be completely accurate; but, will I hope Illustrate my point. Let’s say that for the past many months we have followed the announcement of the new Chick-fil-a restaurant to open in Provo. We’ve read the newspaper articles and may mayor’s blogs. We watched the ground breaking, construction, people camping outside prior to the grand opening and the final fulfillment of a long awaited project. Now we finally have the opportunity to enter the restaurant and order some food. So in we go, we look and the menu and decide we really want to order sushi.

    We really want sushi. And, this is a restaurant. And, restaurants serve food. Unfortunately, not matter how much we want sushi, Chick-fil-a, does not serve sushi and that is not a real option as we sit there and look at the menu.

    We can have sushi, but it will take time to do the studies, negotiate the contract, find a restaurant that will serve sushi, build it, etc. Which, may or may not happen and which may take any number of years to happen. If and when it does we can order sushi. BUT, that is NOT the choice we have today, sitting in Chick-fil-a.

  27. Duane

    I like the newest proposal by Dave Harding whereby the actual BRT would not loop off University Ave as with the proposed Route 4 and the less sensible Route 6. The proposed clockwise collector loop running by every 10 minutes or less would make access to the actual BRT truly reasonable. Then, even during big BYU events when major congestion occurs, the BRT could maintain a reliable schedule, with possible collector route delays having minimal impact on ridership. And the clockwise-only scheme mitigates 9th E problems significantly when compared with the Route 4 proposal. I believe Route 0 is a good idea.

    1. Keli

      I love it. Make so much more sense

  28. Tyler

    I may be joining the discussion too late, but I really like the Route 0 option. A lot. I think it makes a lot of sense and would be useful and practical for many people.

    I also like Karen’s idea of bundling a bus or BRT pass with the cost of living in the dorms. BYU, Provo, and UTA, take a serious look at that. Thanks!

  29. Stephanie

    If Provo is going to do BRT, I think the route down 9th East (with a stop at the Creamery and/or the Wilkinson Building on BYU campus) is probably the only way to go. University Avenue isn’t where people live or congregate, and having to basically shut down parking on 800 North would make an already intolerable parking situation at BYU ten times worse.

    I’m not sold on the economic feasibility of BRT. I think too many of us reflexively use our cars to see the kind of ridership that’s being projected here, and I’m not sure BRT is going to have stops near enough to enough of the places I’d want to go (my apartment, my work, the Shopko shopping complex just below Orem) to be worth paying the bus fare. Especially when UTA and BYU can’t work out any deals that don’t cost a lot more than I’m willing to pay per semester. (I drive a pretty cheap-to-drive car, so it’d be pretty hard to beat that price, especially given the number of places I have to be in a day and the number of trips I’d still have to make to places off the route.)

  30. Britany

    BRT seems like it could be a really great option for the Provo/Orem area.

    With that said, I am surprised that the city hasn’t done more to prepare for this option. Probably my favorite points from above were how Freedom Blvd is too small for BRT but 900 East is just fine. 900 East is too small. It needs to be widened. Bike lanes need to be installed. It is dangerous now and I cannot imagine that a larger, faster bus will “solve” the problems that currently exist.

    It also shocks me that BYU is left out of all the discussion, or the 14 points for that matter. Why does BYU not receive backlash when they will not allow BRT on their turf? They are responsible for at least half of the congestion in the city.

    Air pollution, traffic, growth, and public transportation are all a big concern but throwing a “we must do this now or never” approach on the current proposal sounds very car salesman-like to me. If the city wants 900 East, great. Prepare for it. Make the streets wide enough to allow for pedestrians, bikes, cars and speedy buses.

    We have recently returned to Utah after having been away for years. I grew up in run-down south Provo and Timpview was the assigned high school. The tree streets were Provo high. I have heard the same pathetic argument about the “haves and have nots” my entire youth. It was old then and it is old now. Live where you want to live. There are plenty of high and low income housing in both high school boundaries.

    Also, wasn’t Wasatch elementary marked as being one of the states highest in regards to qualified students with free school lunches? It just seems like the 900 East residents are being made out to be villians to further a cause.

    1. Keli

      AMEN

  31. Sorrel

    So I count 8 driveways between BYU and the Oak Hills Stake Center. These must be the 8 whiners who don’t want to drive around the block to get to their driveway, and those few can hijack and prang the entire project?

    1. Matt

      Wow…Just WOW!!! I am one of those 8 driveways, and I support the BRT. Half of the other houses you mentioned are student rentals, so I can’t imagine how 4 family homes could “hijack” an entire project. Yes, I’m definitely worried about my home (just as you would be when people keep commenting on “widening the street”…aka take your home from you) so I go to meetings and ask lots of questions. But to vilify me and my neighbors is offensive and what you are saying is NOT TRUE, so please stop spreading lies about my family.

      What it really boils down to is that my roof is leaking and I need to know if it’s worth fixing this summer, or not to bother since my home will be torn down by year’s end. (in which case, do you mind if my family moves in with you? We’ve got nowhere else to go)

  32. Brian

    I understand the cost of brt being much lower than light rail, but let’s speak the honest truth here: it may seem illogical, but the same people who are unwilling to ride the bus (call it brt or what you like), would happily ride it if it is a train and has a snazzy name like Traxxx. I may even be one of those shallow types. But it has been proven by many studies. Look it up. Air pollution and congestion are huge problems here and unless big things are done, with the population growth rate here, we have only seen the tip of a giant iceberg. Built the light rail and tons more people will ride it. “It’s just too expensive”, you say. “The money is not there”, it’s a stretch just the get brt here, you say. Well they got it somehow in sugar house. And if they really want to put a dent in this problem, that reality must be faced. Then wait until you do have the money.

  33. Brian

    Also, we have our economic incentives all backwards: we drive our cars for free and pay to ride the public transportation? Should be the opposite right? I know we pay license and registration, but we “feel” like its free to drive a car, vs paying for bus.

  34. Roger

    I’m all in favor of mass transportation and doing all that we can to reduce pollution. However there’s a few things about this project that just don’t seem to add up to me.
    – Projected ridership – From 3,000 who ride the bus on a similar route today to 13,000 riding BRT? That’s a tough sell for me. It seems if there are really that many people willing to ride BRT you’d have more riding the bus today. Transit Authorities are notoriously over optimistic on their projections. For light rail that number may be close to being realistic, but not for BRT. BRT only speeds up the time for the entire route by 8 minutes, and almost all riders would be riding for one half or less of the entire route.
    – 700 North – Has anybody involved in this actually driven down this street on a school day during peak times? There’s often a heavy stream of students crossing at multiple intersections along this street. Vehicles are supposed to yield to pedestrians meaning the bus will have to stop multiple times. Wider streets, heavier traffic, and large buses increase the exposure of these pedestrians to collision.
    – $150 Million – seems like a lot of money for something that we’ll want to replace with light rail almost as soon as it’s completed. Why not build the right solution to start.

    As far as the arguments about the “preferred” 900 East route / Creamery stop being dashed by Wasatch PTAers? The “preferred” route initially proposed was to actually enter BYU campus and follow Campus Drive and stop at the Wilk as the bus has done for decades. Nearly everyone agrees this is the ideal, not 900 East – except for BYU of course. They nixed this long before deciding to close campus and are the ones that proposed 9th East. Why is no one accusing them and pressuring them to accept the initial proposal?

    1. Roland

      Roger, your comments are excellent.

      Another thing is that DEDICATING TWO Traffic Lanes to bus traffic only doesn’t make sense on these roads or for our current needs.

      Positives (i.e. advantages): a) Some cities like some in Oregon do it and Oregon is “cool” so we might look cool too. b) It makes it obvious that we have a bus (is this really a positive?). c) Buses don’t have to slow down.

      Negatives (i.e. disadvantages): a) It makes the too few other lanes much more congested. b) It destroys University Avenue, better streets exist to be destroyed like Freedom. Provo needs to add a North-South corridor, not destroy one of the only ones it has. c) It won’t make us look like Oregon. d) It makes us look like too big of a metropolis with an OBVIOUS bus. e) It makes it impossible to turn from the center lane on University Ave. f) It makes it harder to cross a street with a bike when there is no traffic. g) University Ave stretch is very disruptive (much more than University Parkway). h) There are better alternatives for the same actual positive (bus slowing).

      Over-all: HORRIBLE TRADE – HORRIBLE IDEA! Where is the creativity in this group? It seems everyone is just going for the first idea someone spits down no matter how poor it is. Here’s a very simple experiment for you: Go up to Salt Lake City and look at a road with TRAX. See how poorly a dedicated TRAX lane and other traffic works with a road. Notice the traffic back-ups. NOW, notice in Salt Lake City EVERY other road is big enough to be a corridor. Most traffic is avoiding those roads because they can. In Provo we have small roads, no real corridors, and growing traffic problems. See the problem yet? Should we make our roads worst just because some other “cool” city did it first? Please stop listening to the sales people on this and try a little bit of thought like “engineers” should.

      With just 1 second of thought I have 3 better alternatives. Surely someone is even more creative than me and can turn this into an Excellent Idea. Reasonable Alternative 1: Coordinate the traffic light timing down the whole bus route to match the Bus Schedule time. This way every vehicle traveling the same direction as the bus gets the same benefit of the no slow downs. Fast traffic for everyone down that corridor. Reasonable Alternative 2: With wireless control change the traffic light whenever a bus approaches. This is already used by emergency vehicles. The bus never has to stop. Reasonable Alternative 3: Already mentioned – expand and go down Freedom Blvd or some other “non-corridor”.

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