Comments about ‘Audit: Rail service expansion funding in question’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 8:00 a.m. MST

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county mom
Monroe, UT

Mass transit is only cost effective if the masses use it! Like trains and every other huge bulk movement of goods or people it has to have massive amounts of goods, and/or people to justify the huge costs of the engines, rails, equipment, fuel, initial startup costs and wages. All these huge expences are paid for by the taxpayers. Yes, you are subsidising freight trains, as well as the light rail systems. Semi-tractor trailers and cars are paid for only by the people that own them and roads are paid for by only those who use them. Buses, trains and light rail should be paid for by only those who use them! This is what is wrong with our economy, keeping trains going when there is not enough of that kind of freight, keeping and adding to transit systems that are not used enough, and paying for to much government. If you want the light rail system you should use it.


There is no justification for about half of what the UTA does, starting with the inflated salaries of the people at the top of the pyramid.
The legislature needs to do something about their out of control spending and irresponsible handling of construction and spending.
I'd much rather we spend the UTA budget on education where there is an actual justified need for it. The UTA is just another example of over-sized, over-budgeted government.

Murray, UT

would have been better to have bought a bunch of minivans, and provided public transportation that way.
Do not know how many big buses I see driving around with no one in them.
I would take public transport if it did not take 2 1/2 to 3 hours, to get to work with it.
driving it takes me 15-20 minutes.
Trax has been nice in some ways, but there are not enough people that use it regularly, and there seems to be a trax accident every week.

Salt Lake City, UT

" roads are paid for by only those who use them. "

" This is what is wrong with our economy, keeping trains going when there is not enough of that kind of freight,"

Sorry, Country Mom, you obviously don't know what you are talking about.

Springville, Ut

Extend it to Provo and the airport and you'll see a spike in usage. I would love to go to school in SLC and take the FrontRunner down to Provo on the weekends to see friends and family, much safer and more convenient than driving. It would allow me to read or do homework thanks to the wi-fi in the trains, thus making my time more productive.

To the individual saying that only those who use it should pay for it, that's not really fair. If I use mass transit, it reduces the traffic on the roads. Thus, those who use the roads would be relieved of one less driver and one less potential accident causing car. It makes perfect sense that those who use the roads would also be in favor of mass transit, and thus help pay for it.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

UTA projects should be driven by economic factors, and as long as they are self sustaining, that is great. Raise the fares as needed, keeping in mind that a point of diminishing returns can be reached which will cut ridership, so a careful balance is needed.

Any support for UTA based on flimsy "green- save the planent" claims should be totally ignored when deciding to build, operate, or cease any UTA routes or operations.

As with any government entity, there probably are too many high ranking people in the organization, and some of those too highly paid. However, you need some really smart, experienced, hard working folks to make the best decisions. They guys who could not make aprofit selling alcohol in the DABC are probalby not the types of folks you want running UTA, even if they would work for less than the current leadership.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

Here's an idea. Have the riders pay their "fair" share of the fee. Instead of subsidizing it with taxpayer dollars and tacking it on student "fees". It's time that the people who want it and use it, pay their fair share for it!

That sounds like another radical right wing thought, but, it does make sense. As the president would say, "common sense".

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

@county mom

You're exactly right...the reason our mass transit isn't effective is because nobody uses it. And why does nobody use it? It's too expensive!

The cost savings (if there are any) are offset by the fact that a Trax ride will take you an hour, while you could drive it in 15 minutes.

Look at the best public transportation systems in the world (New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, etc.) and what do they have in common? Fares are low compared to other options, and it gets you there faster than driving. That's why millions of people ride them every day.

In contrast, UTA expects that they can offer an inferior product at a higher price and people will flock to it.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

@ Claudio | 10:33 a.m. Jan. 26, 2012
Springville, Ut

Your wrong. Everytime I'm stopped behind the railroad arms, that is holding up traffic, I think how much exhaust that train is costing society.

Yes it is fair for people who ride the train or buses to pay for that service. Just think you get wi-fi and can read. Something drivers cannot do.

It's much better if people just pay for what they use and consume. It is also fair to expect people to go to work and make their own living and to not live off of taxpayers.

that is common sense. That will save budgets. That will put us on the right road or rail.

Murray, UT

Claudio | 10:33 a.m. Jan. 26, 2012

it does not seem that trax reduces accidents, or congestion in anyway.
Everyone has to stop while it goes through which often takes several minutes.
There has been many accidents, and deaths with trax trains.

Corn Dog
New York, NY

@Claudio 10:33 a.m.

"those who use the roads would be relieved of one less driver and one less potential accident causing car. It makes perfect sense that those who use the roads would also be in favor of mass transit, and thus help pay for it."

Besides being self-serving, your explanation is wrong.

In the Salt Lake Valley, just over 3% of commuters use mass transit. That's not enough to reduce pollution or congestion, especially is you, like other transit users, drive to the train or bus parking lots. Trains like FrontRunner and Trax however impede traffic flow (especially emergency vehicles) and interfere with signal timing designed to speed traffic flow where they intersect roads. Those things in no way justify the huge subsidies (50-90%) provided by the taxpayers. Mass transit and it's users are liabilities to the community, not assets.

Head in the Clouds, UT

Yes, there have been Trax and FrontRunner accidents, and have any of the recent accidents been the fault of the train? People are too busy being caught up in their own little world that they miss the flashing lights, lowering arm, and ringing of bells at the crossing.
Take all of those people off of FrontRunner and put them back on I-15 in Davis County, then start talking about congestion reduction...

Springville, Ut

FrontRunner does not impede traffic unless there is a high number of ranchers trying to cross the road. Look at the proposed routes. That argument is wrong.

Yes, Corn Dog, you're right it would be self-serving...and my explanation would be wrong if I were to be the only person on the unit. As I said, in case you missed it, the system needs to reach areas that would justify its service (i.e. connecting UT and SLC counties, the area where there is the largest concentration of people in the state is along this corridor (and this would benefit quite a large number of folks who commute to SLC for work from the Provo/Orem area), and the airport, like most commuter rail systems in the country).

Vidar, I was referring to FrontRunner, not Trax. Whole different story.

And Liberal Ted, I have no problem paying a fair share. I wasn't opposed to that at all if you look at my post. I was merely pointing out that those who would stay strictly on the roads would in fact benefit if more people took mass transit. Therefore, I don't think ONLY those who use it should pay.

Kaysville, UT

When UTA got this stimulus construction money and they jumped at the bit to get it. I believe the transportation commission and the UTA high salary people need to be supervised more from the various state and federal auditors on the potential for waste of federal funds constributed. You should not be building something that the UTA cannot afford to run or cost effective. Is the Front Runner really effective use of money. I rode UTA buses for 7 years and our express bus was always fully utilized. However, since the various rail services have been in place, and now expanding and bus service has been cut back, has there been an effective audit on the use and cost effectiveness of the operations? Did the legislature look at UTA's system and think that they got the stimulus money to build and not about the operations after it was constructed? When I would go to the airport, I would take the bus to downtown SLC then catch another bus to the airport. After 9/11 I would have to leave 3 hours earlier to get to the airport with 1 1/2 hours which is 3 times longer than driving

Durham, NC

YOu have two choices. You can wait until you have the densities are high enough to justify mass transportation, or, you can wait for densities get high enough and they try to build your system after the fact. What would cost 2.4 billion now would cost multiples of that number if you wait.

Lets take sewer lines as another example. Many years ago people were happy as clams with septic systems. Then came along public sewer services. None of that investment was self funding. If that would have been a criteria, we would be living in a far different place. Business in Utah would have been stunted by its "desirability".

Salt Lake is moving on to the next phase of being a real metropolis. Today, ridership may be only 3%. But even this number exceeds original forecast. Companies are moving to Utah because basic services are being invested in. There is no one to one coorilation.

But those of you who want projects to be self funding, most of your highways in Utah were built with Federal subsidies. They would not meet your litmus test. People with vision are planning so Utah stays a livable place.

Syracuse, UT

You can't use mass transit in thes state of Utah, it is not setup properly, and you have to wait way to long for a bus or train, unlike some of the bigger cities where they are consistent for the most part, you can miss one and another will come along in about 10 to 15 mins, not 30 to 60 mins.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

UTA has the best of both worlds.

They receive direct taxpayer funding, yet they get little (if any)oversight by elected officials or other government agencies.

That sort of system just INVITES trouble.

We see here that they have been "audited". By the structure of UTA they need not take any steps to eliminate the problem, or for that matter even bother to read the audit!
They answer to NO ONE!

They have an appointed "board" (read: "rubber stamp" citizens committee).

UTA made major mistakes in assuming if they build more and more rail lines, that people will ride them.
Now they refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes.

Either change the WHOLE TOP MANAGEMENT of UTA, or put them under UDOT, (a natural fit), or privatize them.

Any of these things would be better than continuing to let UTA have 275 million per year of our tax dollars.

MUCH money is being wasted at that agency. They need more comprehensive oversight.

The "liquor" scandal is nothing compared to the amounts being lost at a VERY INEFFICIENT UTA.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

MY prediction: UTA will come to the taxpayers and want a higher sales tax in order to keep the trains running, or they will park them.

There will BE NO TALK of re-organizing themselves or correcting past mistakes.

They'll just tell taxpayers they NEED TO PAY more!


Is the UTA running the Canyons School District, or is the Canyons School Board runnin the UTA? Equal incompetence by both, and both are a major waste of taxpayer dollars.

Salt Lake City, UT

"Here's an idea. Have the riders pay their "fair" share of the fee. Instead of subsidizing it with taxpayer dollars and tacking it on student "fees". It's time that the people who want it and use it, pay their fair share for it!"

So Liberal Ted, the same should be done for the roads then also. You are gonna love it when every single road is a toll road, including that one right in front of your house. And we will no longer subsidize oil, so of course the price of gasoline will go up, and with it food costs.

We are only paying for what we use? So, of course, only people that have a fire in their house should pay for the fighting of that fire. Oh wee, that's going to be expensive when you have a room and contents fire.

You need the cops? Dig deep.

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