BYU student bus pass prices to go up

MARIO RUIZ/Daily Herald BYU students Kate Smith of Provo, left, and Christina Hunter of Rexburg, Ida. wait for the bus in front of the Wilkinson Student Center Thursday, June 26, 2008. 2008-2009 BYU student bus passes will increase to $120 on July 1, 2008.

PROVO -- Neighbors who live within Provo's Tree Streets are up in arms about a proposed UTA bus stop near Wasatch Elementary School at 900 east and 1060 north.

The new bus stop would be the permanent replacement for the bus stop that was recently moved away from BYU's Wilkinson Center. Neighbors are worried that the new stop will add congestion to 900 East and create unsafe environments for the neighborhood's elementary students.

"First, this is a vehicular congestion problem," said David Acheson, one of the neighborhood leaders looking to move the stop.

Acheson said that UTA plans to add additional bus lines to 900 East in conjunction with this stop. He and the neighbors argue that will cause buses to be running on the street every five to 15 minutes each weekday, depending on the time of day, a situation that they see as less than desirable for elementary students to be around.

In addition to the traffic congestion. Acheson said the residents are worried about the foot traffic the bus stop would add near the elementary school. He noted BYU students and faculty and regular bus riders who use the stop will create a busy atmosphere to the sidewalks in the area and neighbors worry that added traffic could seem daunting to a young child and possibly put the elementary students in dangerous or confusing situations.

"Kids will be walking by people that are adults that are just waiting for the bus," he said. "Adults may wander over onto the school grounds or playground into the park ... this is about kids being able to get to school safely in our neighborhood."

Provo School District has been working with UTA to find a solution to the neighbors' concerns. Greg Hudnall, spokesman for the district, said discussions are taking place for a fence to be erected between the bus stop and the sidewalk to create some separation from the bus passengers and the students. Acheson said the neighbors prefer the stop be moved farther north on 900 East away from the school.

Officials with UTA explained the new bus stop comes as a result of BYU closing Campus Drive in front of the Wilkinson Center as part of their plans to make the campus more walkable. That new bus stop is a key stop in the upcoming Bus-Rapid Transit line UTA is establishing between Provo and Orem. That rapid-transit line has been in the works for years and the route has been public knowledge since at least April 2011.

"It is the best stop for the east part of the campus," UTA spokesman Remi Barron said. "It is kind of a major artery."

Barron said UTA plans to hold a public meeting on the matter on May 15 at the Provo Library. He said officials from UTA, Provo City and BYU will be on hand to discuss the matter with those who are concerned about the change.

billy-hesterman
-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can follow him on Twitter at: @billyhesterman
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