Utah Transit Authority to expand service, make improvements

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For those who rely on public transit to get around, the cost of travel will remain the same--for now.

In its 2015 budget proposal, the Utah Transit Authority plans to maintain its current customer fares, while expanding its holiday service.

UTA Spokesman Remi Barron said they aim to serve a variety of customer needs.

"Some people have to work," he said. "Some people want to get to the fireworks in Sugar House Park. They'll be able to do that now, and we're happy to be able to provide that service."

Beginning next year, the agency will be up and running for three extra days, providing service on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

"We'll have Saturday service, which includes FrontRunner, TRAX, bus services on these holidays, which we haven't had in the past," Barron said.

The addition is just one piece of the $347 million budget, which Barron contends is focused on improving the customer experience.

Based on feedback from the public, the agency is focusing on making technological improvements to its system. The proposal calls for spending approximately $2.5 million to upgrade its WiFi system on the Frontrunner trains, while another $275,000 will go toward designing a new mobile app and online ticketing system.

"It'll respond to the customers' demands of today, instead of where it was designed several years ago," said Bob Biles, the Chief Financial Officer for UTA.

The plan has gained high praise from one of the agency's critics, Alex Cragun, who is a member of the Utah Transit Rider's Union.

"I think it's a great step in the right direction, and I can't wait to see more of this," Cragun said.

Cragun challenged UTA board members last month to ride the system for a week, in an effort to highlight problems he has had with the service.

However, next year's plan seems to address some of the issues he's faced in the past.

"Late night service, better Saturday and Sunday service, basically a continuation of what people need, which is a consistent, reliable public transportation," Cragun said.

The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposal from November 1 to November 28. A public hearing to discuss the plan is scheduled for November 19, during the agency's board meeting.

4 comments

  • Finny Wiggen

    It is really too bad that UTA destroyed its value proposition. It wasn’t that long ago that $0.50 would get you anywhere in the valley. Today, you need $2.50 to get one direction. It costs me $0.40 to drive, by myself, half way across the valley, to work. Even if I purchased a bus pass, I would come out behind.

    It is too bad, because Max comes right in front of my house, and Trax stops right by my work… but how can I justify paying so much more…

    UTA needs to get their costs back in line with the services they offer, before regular people like myself will be able to use them.

    Incidentally, UTA tries to justify the value proposition by pointing out that if I didn’t have a car, that their option would actually be cheaper… this is technically true, but until UTA wants to take me to church, to the grocery store, and my kids to all their lessons, I have to have a car! It is not as though not having a car is a real world option. The only true measurement of value proposition has to take this into account.

    • MIchael Drawe

      Does it really only cost $0.40? Are you calculating only gas? Do you not make maintenance on your vehicle (oil change, windshield wiper fluid, etc)? Car payments? I think your cost would be a bit higher.

  • Tank Berrett

    Not only is it the dollar value that is effected. It is the time it takes to get some where on UTA. Generally it takes 3X the amount of time to ride UTA. I recently my commute to work via car is 15-25 min but on UTA it took at least 1 hour and 20 minutes. You also have to add in the distance of your destination to the closest bus stop. Walking in the snow to some is a higher price to pay than paying car maintenance to drive to their destination. Especially for the young, old, and disabled. One more factor; the hours of UTA operations limit times you can ride if you have to be anywhere on a weekend or between 10pm and 4am the options are extremely limited. Depending on what your paid hourly the cost incentive changes dramatically or it may just even out the costs. Time is money.

  • Nathan S

    you drive to or from work 40 times per month, and change your oil, rotate your tires, etc for $20 once every three months, that is $20 over 120 trips, or $0.16 per trip, gas is $3.30/gal and a lot of cars can get 30miles/gal if you commute 5 miles each way that is $0.55 per trip, so 71 cents per trip, if your commute is less than five miles it costs less, so even with maintaining your vehicle it is cheaper. You would need to spend $78 per month on maintenance to come out equal, and that is if you only go to and from work, add in shopping, visiting friends, leisure activities, etc, and you could probably buy a car every year with what you save by not riding UTA.

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