The Utah Transit Authority is one step away from finalizing the route of its new “Midvalley Connector,” a bus rapid transit (BRT) system through West Valley City, Taylorsville and Murray.

It will offer speedier service to such points as Valley Fair Mall, Salt Lake Community College’s Redwood Campus, Sorenson Research Park and the Intermountain Medical Center.

The final route was endorsed Wednesday by the UTA Advisory Council, whose members come from cities served by the agency. The route has also been endorsed by city councils in the area affected. The proposal now goes to the UTA Board for final approval, expected in two weeks.

Construction of the new 7-mile route — which will include 1.4 miles of bus-only lanes on the 4500/4700 South expressway — is projected to cost $45.4 million. It is penciled in for completion in 2021, but UTA is still seeking ways to fund it, said Steve Meyer, UTA interim executive director.

Sometimes described as sort of a TRAX train on rubber wheels, the service speeds trips by offering limited stops akin to train service, has buses with extra doors, requires passengers to purchase tickets before they board, and uses some bus-only lanes.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)
(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

From the West Valley Central TRAX station, this BRT will travel south on 2700 West to 4700 South. It then will divert off 4700 South for a stop at Salt Lake Community College before proceeding on 4700 South to Sunstone Road. It will follow Sunstone and Murray Boulevard to Vine Street, and take it to the Murray Central FrontRunner Station and the Intermountain Medical Center.

UTA last year began operating the similar Utah Valley Express (UVX) in Provo and Orem. That BRT has seen ridership quadruple along its route — largely because rides on it are free for three years because of a federal grant.

About 9,400 people a day have been riding UVX. The agency projects ridership on the Midvalley Connector to be between 2,200 and 2,700 a day.

The proposed new BRT plans to use 40-foot long buses, compared to the 60-foot buses used by UVX.

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) One of UTA's Utah Valley Express (UVX) 60-foot-long buses makes a stop in Orem, Sept. 25, 2018.

The new Midvalley Connector is projected to have service every 10 to 15 minutes, compared to every-six-minute service on UVX during peak times.

The new route will have 15 stations, and 11 total buses.

UTA is also currently working on detailed engineering for yet another new BRT line between downtown Ogden and Weber State University — which is expected to be completed before the Midvalley Connector.