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UVX open houses and online survey showing 84% in favor of 900 East bus stop

By Genelle Pugmire - | Oct 22, 2021

Johnny Morris, Special to the Daily Herald

Utah Valley University students ride the UVX bus from the Orem Frontrunner UTA station to UVU’s Orem campus during the first day of classes on Monday, August 24, 2020. (Johnny Morris, Special to the Daily Herald)

Between December 2020 and February 2021, the Provo administration had received about 200 emails requesting a UVX bus stop be put on 900 East.

What makes this request extraordinary, is that less than five years earlier over 50% of residents in the area were asking the Utah Transit Authority, and the city, to not put a stop on 900 East.

That was before UVX went online and in business. With three successful years behind them, and a change in perception, the public opinion of the potential stop changed dramatically.

For the past two weeks, the city, UTA and other stakeholders have held open houses for residents to share their thoughts and concerns about the idea of putting a bus stop on the west side of 900 East by the new Brigham Young University school of music and across the street east at Wasatch Elementary School.

The survey will be open until the end of day Oct. 31. As of Thursday, the Open Town Hall survey had 292 responses. Of those, 147 are registered users which guarantees only one comment per user.

There were an additional 143 un-registered users responding. Of the registered users, 85% favor the UVX stop and of the unregistered, 83% are in favor. That means just over 84% of respondents favor the stop.

Of those responding to the survey, 20% are from the Wasatch neighborhood.

According to Dixon Holmes, assistant Chief Administrative Officer for Provo, 50 people attended last week’s open house at Wasatch Elementary School and about 25 went to Wednesday’s open house at the Rec Center.

“About 1 in 8 were concerned or opposed, the rest being in favor,” Holmes said. “This is an informing process. It was a chance for interested parties to come and learn about what a 900 East UVX station might look like. And to express support or opposition to the same.”

No final decisions have been made, Holmes added.

Mary De La Mare-Schaefer, district manager for UTA attended the meetings. She said it appeared the biggest concern for residents was the safety of the school children at Wasatch.

“We have bus stops that go past schools up and down the system,” De La Mare-Schaefer said. “Every bus operator is watching out for children.”

She said that if a child comes on the bus unattended, a member of the new UTA police force will be called to help the child find their guardian.

UTA does not intend to just go into another build without complete knowledge of what the residents want and the city and have the funding for it.

“We are respectful to the city,” De La Mare-Schaefer said. “We will not do anything until they say so.”

She also noted the system is successful with or without the stop.

This is not a forgone conclusion, according to Holmes. The meetings were the beginning of fact finding and hearing from the residents.

For people like former councilwoman Kim Santiago, who worked hard to keep a bus stop from coming to 900 East five years ago, the hope is that the city respects the original wishes of the residents.

“We’re hearing this would be the most heavily used station in the system,” Holmes said. “This is not a done deal and no funding has been identified.”

Residents who did not get to an open house can still voice their opinions on the Open Town Hall online survey on http://provo.org.

After the survey closes, the administration will look at the comments and start formulating how they should proceed.

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