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UTA focusing on rider experience, overall service in 2014

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013 10:22 p.m. MST

Passengers ride a UTA Trax train in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — After a year in which the Utah Transit Authority launched four new light-rail lines, 2014 is expected to be much less eventful.

Agency officials said they will concentrate on enhancing the rider experience and improve overall service on the system's various rail and bus lines.

On Wednesday, the UTA board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an operating budget for the upcoming year.

The agency’s 2014 budget is estimated at $235 million. The total budget is about 7.6 percent higher than last year, with the additional funding needed to operate the agency's growing mass transit system.

The budget projects an estimated $325.5 million in revenue from numerous sources, including passenger revenue, advertising revenue, investment income and sales tax, along with federal operations and preventive maintenance funding.

On the expense side, the agency anticipates $235.9 million in costs from bus, rail, Paratransit, Rideshare and Vanpool services, and operations support, along with general and administrative expenditures. Additionally, UTA will incur debt service payments from bonds issued of about $88.1 million.

According to General Manager Michael Allegra, the agency is proud of the work done in 2013 that helped launch so many new light-rail extensions, along with expanded commuter-rail service from the previous year. He noted that plans are in the works for future streetcar lines and more bus-rapid transit and bus services.

Technology also will be a major tool in the advancement of transit in the coming year, Allegra said, including equipment that makes paying fares easier, such as the recently introduced electronic FAREPAY cards. There will also be mobile apps to make it easier for riders to find travel information.

“We want everybody to have access to transit,” Allegra said. “Making it as easy to use transit as it is to use (a) car is our goal."

Email: jlee@deseretnews.com

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