Name changes are a sore topic at the Utah Transit Authority, which would become the Transit District of Utah if the Legislature has its way. But a UTA committee approved a new name Wednesday for the Provo-Orem Bus Rapid Transit project.
It will be called the Utah Valley Express, or UVX, when it begins service on Aug. 15.
Andrea Packer, UTA communications director, said that was the winner out of more than 350 names submitted for consideration by the public.
Officials from UTA, local governments and the state Department of Transportation narrowed the field to three finalists that were put to a public vote: Utah Valley Express, Timp Runner and Timp Express.
Packer said UVX won 520 of the 950 votes cast. The UTA Board’s Stakeholder and Planning Committee endorsed the winning name on Wednesday, and forwarded it to the full UTA Board for final action.
“I don’t want to talk about naming anything,” UTA Board member Babs Delay said before that discussion — referring to the Legislature’s move to rename the agency as part of a transit reform bill.
As the committee discussed whether it can afford new extra service it seeks to connect to the UVX, board member Sherrie Hall Everett said, “I’d rather spend money on expanding service than on changing logos” — a dig at the mandated name change.
Hall Everett previously contended the name change will cost UTA, or TDU, $50 million.
Critics scoff at Hall Everett’s estimate. They say legislation allows for phasing in the name change over time as the agency can afford it — including putting the name only on new buses and new supplies, such as fare tickets, as they are ordered. They say the change is a needed step to improve the image of the scandal-tainted agency.
Gov. Gary Herbert has opposed the name change as unnecessary and expensive, although he praises other parts of the bill to restructure UTA. He has suggested re-visiting the name change over the coming year.
The new bus rapid transit project is described by UTA as “TRAX on rubber wheels,” where passengers buy tickets from machines in advance. Extra-long buses will have use of bus-only lanes for about half their 10.5-mile route. Buses may receive priority at traffic signals and would run about every six minutes at peak travel times.
The route in Provo and Orem will include Utah Valley University, University Mall, Brigham Young University, downtown Provo and the Provo Centre mall. Cost of the project is now estimated at $201 million.