UTA ending token program

Agency is being cheated out of $12,000 a month

Published: Saturday, Aug. 23 2008 12:34 a.m. MDT

Arcade tokens are being used to cheat the Utah Transit Authority out of nearly $12,000 per month.

And UTA says it is done playing the game.

Starting Sept. 1, UTA will no longer accept tokens as a payment option for TRAX or FrontRunner, due to the recent fraud. Tokens will be accepted for payment on the buses and can be exchanged for a transfer ticket to board a train.

"We're stuck between a rock and hard place," UTA spokesperson Carrie Bohnsack-Ware said. "We can't allow this fraud to go on, but we don't want to inconvenience our riders. This is the best solution we could come up with."

"As a taxpayer-funded organization and at a time when we are implementing fuel surcharges and asking our riders to pay more, it's not appropriate for UTA to knowingly allow this fraud to continue," UTA Chief Operating Officer Jerry Benson said.

Beginning in May, UTA saw a spike in the amount of fraud involving tokens. During that time, it discontinued use of tokens at the stations most affected, at 9000 South and 9400 South.

However, after these stations no longer accepted the tokens, the problem spread to other stations and even the higher-priced FrontRunner stations. Those arrested for participating in token fraud were charged with theft and banned from returning to UTA property. Those caught a second time were charged with criminal trespass and theft.

According to Bohnsack-Ware, those who were arrested for token fraud admitted to making a buck by selling tickets for a discounted price to other travelers. Those arrested were also reportedly using the money for drugs.

Anyone with tokens may continue to use them until Sept. 1 or may exchange them for another transit fare of equal value through the end of September.


E-mail: CMadsen@desnews.com

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