After the Utah Transit Authority recently increased the frequency and service hours on key bus routes — thanks to a tax hike by Salt Lake City — officials on Monday unveiled additional steps to make service more accessible to the disabled, and more comfortable for all.
City and UTA leaders showed off new bus stop shelters that are wheelchair accessible, and new larger signs that can be seen from greater distances and contain more information, including schedule data. They are on eight-sided poles that allow the visually impaired to confirm by touch that they are at a bus stop.
“Along with being convenient, we need to make transit comfortable,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski at a news conference at a bus stop on 900 South at 200 West. “More than amenities, these shelters and clear signage are necessities for a transit system to work.”
Like the more frequent and expanded service, the new signs and shelters are funded in large part by the “Funding Our Future” tax hike approved by Salt Lake City.
UTA board Chairman Carlton Christensen said that while his agency has been spending on improvements, “It’s these important partnerships with communities like Salt Lake City [for extra funds] that are going to make this even more successful.”
The new shelters have wider entrances and sufficient room for wheelchairs to maneuver and wait while enjoying protection from stormy weather. They are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Christensen said.
In August, because of the new city tax hikes, UTA made major improvements to several routes connecting the western and eastern parts of the city, including Routes 2 (mostly along 200 South to the University of Utah), 9 (along 900 South, now extended through Glendale and Poplar Grove to the U.) and 21 (along 2100 South also to the U.).
These routes now offer service every 15 minutes on weekdays, 30-minute service on Sundays, and extra early-morning and late-night operations.
Officials also unveiled larger signs that will be used initially on those routes.
They “are designed to be more visible and identifiable from greater distances,” Christensen said. They also identify the stop with a number that can be used to check by phone when the next bus will arrive. It has some schedule information and expected arrival times at other key stops along the route.
Christensen said that a disabilities advisory committee recommended the new eight-sided poles used for the signs so that “riders with visual disabilities can now reach out and feel the pole and know that they are in fact at a bus stop.”
Biskupski, who will leave office next month, said she considers the Funding Our Future program to help improve transit as one of her major accomplishments in office.
It helped “realize our dream of better transit in Salt Lake City that is more inclusive of those who need an accessible service,” she said. With the program’s “large focus on transit and a desire to clear the air, we kept in mind also our mission to build a city for everyone.”