It’s not every day Superman, Wonder Woman or Ironman can be found driving a Utah Transit Authority bus around town, but according to their bosses, the drivers are superheroes, nonetheless.
That is what UTA Regional General Manager Mary DeLaMare-Schaefer is saying about her Utah County team — they are frontline heroes.
“Our employees are coming to work and getting people to where they need to be every day,” DeLaMare-Schaefer said. “I feel really proud of everyone working for UTA. It’s difficult, but our employees have risen to the occasion.”
For that reason, Wednesday and Thursday have be dubbed Superhero Day. Drivers with UTA are all dressed up as superheroes and in turn they are fed a lunch that included Hero Sandwiches.
DeLaMare-Schaefer said that while UTA had dropped the number of buses in service, drivers have continued to come to work through the whole COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
Drivers are taking shifts, and when they aren’t driving they are catching up on in-class training.
“They are on call to do training catch-up with virtual classes and coaching,” DeLaMare-Schaefer said. “Training our employees is a good use of time.”
Employees are also spending time disinfecting buses.
“Every night all the buses get completely disinfected,” DeLaMare-Schaefer said. She added that drivers use hand sanitizer, wipes and will soon have plexi-glass barriers installed in all the buses while driving.
The popular UVX route is down about 80% in ridership right now. That is in part due to both Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University not having students on campus.
Still, that means community ridership has moved up from 14% to 20% and ridership is still higher than when UTA had the old 830 route.
The 850 route that travels State Street from Provo to Lehi is the workhorse and constantly has riders that use it to get to work, shopping and other appointments, according to DeLaMare-Schaefer.
UTA is watching daily to see how ridership is changing. If a bus consistently has 20 riders at any given time, another bus will get added to the route.
DeLaMare-Schaefer said that will be the pattern for the near future. For now, routes like the 850 seem to be the most used. UTA is seeing the route is helping essential workers get to work.
The 850 route is currently part of a study on a central corridor rapid transit route. That new route will be determined sometime in the early fall.
Until further notice, the UVX route is running every 15 minutes and the 850 route is running every half hour.