Letter: UTA’s public outreach was very much a flawed and insufficient process

(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.

My family and I have long lived in the Avenues. We strongly support clean air solutions and alternative forms of transportation throughout the city. With UTA’s recent bus line proposals, however, they have failed in working with local communities to find collaborative, common-sense solutions, particularly when introducing an extreme and unprecedented type of bus line. For example, nowhere else throughout the city is there a bus line through a quiet, sleepy neighborhood that starts at 4am and ends at midnight, running every 15 minutes.

No one faults new ideas or forward-looking solutions, but UTA’s public outreach was very much a flawed and insufficient process: our City Council representative, Chris Wharton, was caught off-guard, our Greater Avenues Community Council was unaware of the proposals, and most of the residents of our community were unaware of the proposed changes. If UTA’s public outreach requirement is nothing more than a “check-the-box” procedure, then they should at least say so.

In recent weeks, our Avenues residents have organized and offered four alternative solutions that support both UTA’s mission and the residents of the Avenues. We fully expect their engagement.

I understand that UTA has its own self-imposed timelines, but I submit that a bad decision is worse than no decision. I want to be clear: We fully support buses and other alternative forms of transportation, but only in ways that work with the community to find the best solutions. As a Utah Republican, this lies at the very core of my underlying civic philosophy: working with the locals is better than a top-down government-knows-best-approach. Let’s work together.

Drew Hardesty, Salt Lake City

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