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What is Bus Rapid Transit or BRT?

BRT is an innovative, high capacity, lower cost public transit solution that can significantly improve urban mobility. This permanent, integrated system uses buses or specialized vehicles on roadways or dedicated lanes to quickly and efficiently transport passengers to their destinations, while offering the flexibility to meet transit demand. BRT systems can easily be customized to c-ommunity needs and incorporate state-of-the-art, low-cost technologies that result in more passengers and less congestion.

Here is an example of what a modern BRT line looks like

Provo-Orem Transportation Improvement Project at a Glance

The Provo-Orem Transportation Improvement Project is designed to alleviate traffic congestion and increase mobility, travel choices and regional connectivity in the communities of Provo and Orem. The partnership, led by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG), Provo, Orem and Utah County, will feature roadway improvements and a bus rapid transit (BRT) line that will increase transit capacity, reliability and service levels.

Roadway Improvements

The project’s roadway improvement component includes widening roadways, replacing bridges, installing pedestrian-friendly crosswalks and improving various intersections along University Parkway and University Avenue. The project will:

  • Widen University Parkway, 800 East to University Avenue, adding one new lane in each direction
  • Replace University Parkway bridges over the Provo River
  • Make intersection improvements on University Parkway at 200 East, 800 East, 2230 North, Freedom Boulevard, Main Street, 400 West, University Avenue and 300 South in Provo.

Bus Rapid Transit

The project’s transit component is a BRT line that will feature modern articulated buses and will reduce travel times by using exclusive bus lanes, transit signal priority and ticket vending machines. Additionally, the line will feature level boarding platforms, high-end shelters, benches and landscaping. The BRT line will connect FrontRunner commuter rail with major Utah Valley destinations such as universities, major employment centers, shopping malls, and downtown Orem and Provo.

Here are some BRT details at a glance:

  • 10.5 miles
  • 18 stations
  • 25 modern articulated buses – 18 on the road at one time
  • 51 percent exclusive lanes
  • 5 minute frequency during peak travel times
  • Travel time (end to end) 38 minutes
  • Projected ridership two years after opening: 12,500 daily boardings


  • Total project cost: $190 million
  • $40 million state funding UDOT improvements
  • $75 million from federal transit grant
  • $65 local sales tax revenue bond
  • $7 million UDOT donated right-of-way
  • $3 million local sales tax

Click here to learn in detail about how the project is funded.
Click here to learn more about revenue bonds.
Click here to learn about other Utah County transportation projects that have been funded similarly.

Partnership Benefits

  • UDOT and UTA will use the same contractor resulting in millions of dollars in savings
  • Construction will be less impactful to the public because construction will take place simultaneously
  • Thousands of car trips converted to transit allowing roadway capacity will continue to function at higher levels in the future
  • Seven acres of parking will be saved at local universities

Project Timeline

Current Routes and BRT Ridership Projections

Ridership on current Utah County bus routes that serve BYU and UVU is approximately 8,500 daily boardings. Projected ridership within the first two years for the BRT line is 12,500 daily boardings. BRT buses will run every five minutes (up from current 15 minute levels) during peak travel hours.

Ridership Projection Methodology 

An independent engineering firm conducted a modeling analysis to calculate the projected BRT ridership. This second independent firm that was hired by Provo to review the ridership projections concluded that the ridership estimates were valid.  Afterward, UTA used the independent firm to update the ridership projection for new FTA requirements, and that work was reviewed and approved by FTA.
Ridership numbers are calculated through a computer-based transportation model to determine current travel demand and then make forecasts of future travel volumes and locations. Ridership projections for other UTA lines have traditionally been very accurate.

UTA Ridership and Projections

Although 70 percent of UTA riders have access to a car, people continue to choose transit as a viable transportation option. UTA ridership has continued to increase each year over year with 2014 reaching an all-time high of 44.1 million boardings.
In nearly all cases, UTA lines are not only performing according to ridership projections, they are exceeding them. When TRAX opened in 1999, 2014 ridership projections called for approximately 55,000 daily boardings. In 2014, TRAX averaged approximately 64,000 daily boardings. Ridership projections for FrontRunner, which opened in 2008, called for approximately 10,000 daily boardings in 2014. In 2014, FrontRunner averaged more than 12,000 daily boardings.

Addressing Utah County’s Transportation Needs

The Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) develops the regional Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) that forecasts growth and identifies transportation needs in the region for the next 20 to 30 years. Projections show that Utah County’s population is expected to nearly double to 1.1 million by 2040. According to MAG, such rapid growth places heavy demands on the transportation system and can subsequently reduce air quality.

MAG has identified the project as a key regional transit improvement to be completed between 2011 and 2020 to address:

  • Increasing travel demand and insufficient roadway capacity
  • Insufficient transit capacity
  • Poor transit reliability and travel time
  • Lack of high‐quality alternatives to auto travel
  • Lack of connectivity across I‐15 and from I‐15 to Orem and Provo

In addition to providing a new BRT line, federal dollars will be used to widen parts of University Parkway and University Avenue, replace bridges on University Parkway and make intersection improvements in Provo and Orem. Federal transit dollars can only be used to improve the roads that the BRT line runs on.

Long-Term Community Benefits

The project will have a positive long-term effect on the community’s roads, air quality and quality of life.  The BRT line will connect the Provo and Orem FrontRunner Stations with UVU, BYU, existing high-density housing, the MTC, major employment centers and two malls.
The project will allow thousands of car trips to be converted to transit. This will allow roadway capacity and lifespan to continue to function at higher levels and drivers to benefit from less congested roadways.

The project will also offer more transit choices for local university students. In 2014, UVU had 8,200 cardholders who took more than 1 million transit trips. In 2014, BYU had more than 2,500 cardholders who took more than 175,000 transit trips. Additionally, nearly seven acres of parking could be saved at local universities and that land could be converted into better uses.

Have questions? Contact the project team at 801-236-4784 or