Sales tax revenue is supporting the City’s 2017 Transit Master Plan. The City and its transit partners are working to increase frequency of service to fill gaps in evening, mid-day and weekend service; provide service on new east-west routes; and improve the quality of transit stops.
Better transit service connects residents with jobs and affordable housing, improves air quality, creates more walkable communities and adds to the quality of life of all residents and visitors. Many essential workers in our community, such as healthcare and grocery store employees, depend on the continued operation of transit services as our community navigates the COVID pandemic.
As part of the effort to limit the spread of COVID, keep everyone safe and ensure fiscal responsibility, UTA reduced service temporarily in April of 2020. But in August 2020, UTA restored 90 percent of service, targeting improvements for those who need service the most. The Frequent Transit Network, or FTN, bus routes (along 200 South, 900 South, and 2100 South) have all been restored to, or improved beyond, pre-COVID levels. Route 200, State Street North, as well as Route 217, Redwood Road, also have the same FTN service and frequency. This frequent service provides more space to social distance—and UTA requires all riders in Salt Lake to wear a face mask or covering.
Frequent Transit Network
Salt Lake City Transportation continues to strengthen partnerships to meet the transit critical need. The City and Utah Transit Authority (UTA) partnered to implement the first phase of the Frequent Transit Network in 2019. This network will be complemented through the implementation of other transit improvements.
The City and UTA entered an interlocal agreement and launched the first three routes of the new Frequent Transit Network in August 2019. The interlocal agreement includes higher frequency service and expanded span of service along key initial corridors (200 South, 900 South and 2100 South) and additional buses. These consisted of concrete pads to provide a more comfortable waiting experience, as well as wheelchair access to buses, and were in place for the new bus service that started in August 2019.
Transportation initiated outreach activities in early 2019, beginning with an Open Routes event in February 2019 (which previewed a section of one of the new bus lines that runs between North Temple and California Avenue in the Glendale and Poplar Grove neighborhoods with Mayor Biskupski and Council Member Johnston) and a “soft launch” awareness campaign for the new frequent routes that kicked off in August. Using Facebook, Instagram, digital display ads, Spotify, and Deseret News takeover, over 1.3 million impressions were served through November 2019 and over 444,000 unique impressions were recorded.
Transportation also created a “meeting in a box” for the FTN, which they presented in-person to community groups through March 2020 until COVID prevented further in-person engagement. Community members can borrow it to conduct the same presentation to groups with whom they are involved if they’d like to spread the word about the new bus service. A survey was also conducted from November 2019 to March 2020 about the FTN. Check out the map of suggested bus stop improvements from that survey here. These interactions help staff develop a highly visible brand for the network.
The Transportation Division also worked on developing on-demand service for residential neighborhoods, which will provide curb-to-curb connections to the FTN. The Transportation Division is working with the City’s Economic Development Department, in partnership with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) TravelWise Program, to implement a Work-to-Transit Program on the Industrial West Side to expand options and support businesses in managing travel demand to and from this economic driver of the City.
A fare and pass program analysis has been underway, including robust stakeholder engagement, to determine the best ways to take transit affordability to the next level. In partnership with UTA and UDOT, they have been awarded funding through the American Dream Ideas Challenge to conduct research for a potential future Mobility as a Service program, which will allow for multimodal trip planning and payment on a single platform and through a subscription service.
Bus Stop Improvements
In early 2021, Salt Lake City, in partnership with Utah Transit Authority (UTA), is making improvements to certain bus stops across the City, including some along the Frequent Transit Network. We are making these improvements in the following areas:
The primary purpose of the improvements is to make the bus stops accessible to all riders. Improvements will vary by stop but may include the addition of shelters, benches, trash cans, bike racks, and lighting. Along with stop improvements there may also be some stop consolidation to improve the efficiency of the bus routes. Some of the improved bus stops will also serve new routes in the coming years. These improvements impact the following bus routes:
There will be more updates and physical signage posted at impacted bus stops as we get closer to construction. Please let us know if you have any specific concerns about your stop in these areas by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-535-6630.
Please visit slc.gov/transit for more details.
Trips to Transit
The 2017 Salt Lake City Transit Master Plan identifies On-Demand Ride Services (Trips to Transit) as a key strategy for serving low-density, single-use areas of the City. The goals of the Trips to Transit program, consistent with those of the Master Plan itself, are to improve air quality, increase the number of people taking transit, provide a safe and comfortable transit access experience, provide a complete transit system that supports a transit lifestyle, provide access to opportunity for likely riders who are underserved, and to create economically vibrant, livable places that support use of transit. This program will provide on-demand intra-zonal service, which will connect residents, visitors, and commuters between fixed route transit services and areas of the City that are largely residential, as identified in the Transit Master Plan. The areas in the plan include Rose Park, Glendale, the Upper Avenues, and the East Bench. Travel modeling has yielded the recommendation that an initial pilot would be most successful and serve the greatest number of riders in Rose Park, with a short connection to the Route 9 and Route 4 end-of-line near Redwood Road and 400 South. Adding Poplar Grove and Glendale to this service area would make the pilot even more useful to more residents. UTA has piloted such a service in Southwest Salt Lake County, and it has proven very popular and more cost effective than fixed route service in connecting people to the major transit lines. City staff has evaluated the cost of contracting directly with a provider compared with operating the same service in collaboration with UTA, and the latter is both more affordable and better integrated with the existing transit system. In addition, if the pilot proves to be equal to or better than current service provided by inefficient routes, resources for those routes can be reinvested in two City Council priority routes on 600 North/500 East and 1000 North/South Temple.
To launch those two routes in 2022, it is important to launch Trips to Transit as soon as possible, with a goal of August 2021. This will allow time for the service to become established and evaluated.
Additional Planning positions work to update the Transit Dashboard story map monthly and address increases in workload and free up capacity to address transit-related zoning issues.
The Civic Engagement Specialist position continues to coordinate engagement for Funding Our Future projects, many of them focused on transit and transportation.
Updated May 2021
The budget information below is for fiscal year 2020-2021.
|FY21 Frequent Transit Network (FTN) Bus Routes||COVID has reduced Frequent Transit Network (FTN) service on key bus routes. During this period of uncertainty, the goal is to retain operators so that when ridership increases again, service can resume to normal frequency levels (15-minutes or better, Monday thru Saturday from 5 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday service).||$4,700,000|
|UTA Branding and Outreach||Fund branding and a public outreach process for collaborative projects with UTA.||$100,000|
|Transit Route Improvements||Fund capital improvements associated with the Frequent Transit Network (FTN), including signal upgrades, ADA enhancements, bus stop improvements, first/last mile connections, etc.||$1,067,000|
|Planner & Transit Planner||Continue to fund two staff members, one in the Planning Division and one in the Transportation Division, to manage transit programs and address transit-related zoning issues.||$179,356|
|Project Engineer||Continue to fund position focused on engineering tasks related to transportation and street projects.||$132,153|
|Transportation Engineer||Continue to fund Engineer focused on complete street transformations that combine bond reconstructions with FTN corridor infrastructure.||$120,989|
|Civic Engagement Specialist||Continue to fund Engagement Specialist specifically for Funding Our Future projects.||$76,197|