Letter: Redesign of UTA bus lines in the Avenues raises safety concerns

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) A Utah Transit Authority bus travels east on 3rd Avenue at M Street, Friday, May 13, 2022. UTA is changing several bus routes in and around the Avenues and some community members have been protesting through fliers and on social media.

We appreciate The Tribune’s interest in an issue critical to residents in the Avenues, the redesign of the UTA bus lines. The article fails to adequately represent the position of residents opposed to these changes.

Our major concern is the safety of school children accessing Ensign Elementary on L Street, the safety of those using Lindsey Gardens for baseball, the playground, and the dog park on M Street; and the consequences of a fire engine using L (their major southbound route) confronting a bus coming up and causing a critical, even fatal, delay in attending to an emergency. The Avenues is an old, historic area, primarily residential, with neighborhood bonding enhanced by the safety of our streets.

Second, the bus will run every 15 minutes from 4 a.m. to midnight. This load translates as 66/132 buses daily on L/M and 9th Avenue respectively. The number and frequency of buses, and the duration, are not recommended for a community where less than 6% of residents rely on public transportation, with the vast majority using bicycles, walking, or driving cars. Even a small percentage increase in ridership resulting from the change in bus convenience is not offset by the number of residents whose lives will change dramatically.

UTA has made a strong case for the city-wide changes being recommended. The problem is that only a small segment of the population was made aware of these changes, despite a planning process that began in 2017. If residents had been directly notified of these changes at that time — with a mailer, for example — we possibly could have worked with UTA to come up with a compromise solution that might address the concerns of those directly affected.

Our alternative plan will be presented at the GACC meeting on June 1 currently scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Sweet Library.

Laurie Holland, Carol Fudyma, Teresa Musci, Meg Hards and Donna Dinsdale, Salt Lake City

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