In a different sort of public hearing, Utah Transit authority riders peppered the agency Thursday with questions and comments about upcoming big bus route changes Â 140 characters at a time through an online "Twitter chat."
For example, Harley Hart tweeted, "Any chance of keeping express buses? Saves 20+ mins over FR [FrontRunner]."
That's unlikely, UTA officials responded.
"It's not final, but we do not currently have funding to run both FR and parallel express routes."
The agency then tried to soften the pain: "There's also an increase in service between counties as FR operates throughout the day, as opposed to express bus service," which only operates during rush hour.
UTA is proposing to change all of its bus routes in Utah County Â and many in Salt Lake City Â to allow better connections with the new FrontRunner commuter rail section scheduled to open Dec. 10 between Salt Lake City and Provo.
The changes include eliminating all express buses between Utah and Salt Lake counties, and creating or altering local routes to take riders to FrontRunner instead. UTA says that will allow local service circulating around Utah County communities to increase by 17 percent.
Many changes are also coming to downtown Salt Lake City, which is scheduled to open a second FrontRunner station in December at the North Temple viaduct. Buses headed to northern parts of the city will soon connect with that new station. Buses headed to the south generally will connect to the existing Salt Lake Central station hub at 250 S. 800 West.
Concerned riders and UTA exchanged about 200 tweets on the changes Thursday Â not bad considering some traditional public hearings UTA has held on the topic so far attracted only a handful of people.
Numerous tweeters asked for late-night TRAX and FrontRunner service. UTA said in one reply, "We ran late service for 5 yrs & ridership was too low to justify service. It's something we'll continue to look at."
The agency also held out little hope when asked about having FrontRunner operate on Sunday.
"We do not currently have the funds to run FR service on Sunday," it said.
Some asked about the cost of new FrontRunner service. UTA said, "Fare is $2.35 to the first station, 55 cents each addtnl. So Provo to Ogden is $8.95."
Several wondered if passes would be accepted on FrontRunner. Steven J. Phelps tweeted, "Full time grad student at the U. UTA is my only way up. Can't afford if I have to pay fare." UTA responded, "Your pass will work fine."
Other participants wanted to know projected travel times from Utah County to Salt Lake City. UTA responded that it will be 49 minutes from Orem and 56 minutes from Provo.
There also were several people asking if FrontRunner and UTA buses will offer special services for Brigham Young University football games.
"It's too early to tell," UTA answered, but "We hope to provide efficient service to games."
Have your say
I UTA is accepting comments about the bus route changes through Aug. 31. Comments may be submitted by phone, mail, email and via rideuta.com.