Comments about ‘UTA built trains on the backs of big-money lobbyists, but can the system be sustained?’

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Published: Thursday, June 7 2012 11:46 p.m. MDT

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Orem Parent
Orem, UT

I can see it already. Education funding will be cut further due to lack of funds for UTA. We already steal money from educating our children so we can build roads and legislative offices, why not for trains?

COGITOERGONIHILSVM
Salt Lake City, Utah

I for one am glad they used the lobbyists and built the trains. Sometimes you gotta pay to play. The trains are awesome. It's fine to spend government money on things like trains in a place like SLC.

Wasatch Rebel
Kearns, Utah

What a colossal waste of money, considering the ridership, especially from the spur lines. Another case of trying to do what's trendy instead of doing what's efficient--a bigger and better bus system.

Virgil
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

"I don't like the idea of people who don't use the system having to subsidize it."

You can only make the freeway so wide, and you can only have so many parking spaces downtown. Don't just think of is as paying for some poor shcmo to ride the trax, but as paying some money to not have 20 minutes added to your commute from congestion, another 10 from construction and another 10 from trying to find parking. And you might even get some more breathable air during one of the inversions. Sounds like a fair deal to me.

RanchHand
Huntsville, UT

Conservative Utahn's really don't mind government spending, as long as the money's spent on conservative Utahn's pet projects. But then, that's the way it is all across the country too.

toshi1066
OGDEN, UT

My problem with Frontrunner, other than it takes forever to go any distance, is that the cost of going to SLC from Ogden is roughly the same as in my own vehicle and I can drive directly to the place I want.

Utah_1
Salt Lake City, UT

According to the recent Legislative Audit, Trax is doing better than buses in moving people financially, but Frontrunner is getting creamed.

From the minutes of the February 8, 2012 Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee

"Rep. Cox asked if UTA did not add new lines and slowed the development of Frontrunner, would it change the debt structure. Mr. Coleman replied that is not feasible because they are in the midst of building and could not slow it down. A slowdown would need to be in future projects."

If UTA needs to slow down future development, why are they spending new money on this new facility?

"UTA debt has grown from $300 million in
2002 to over $2 billion in 2013. As a result their bond ratings have been downgraded. Local sales tax revenue must cover the capital and financing costs of UTA's projects. Even as sales tax revenue increases, the auditor projects that debt service will consume an increasing portion of sales tax and will impose a financial strain."

dumprake
Washington, UT

This is going to end up being the boondoggle of boondoggles in this state. The voters twice voted this thing down, but government dogooders forced it through anyway. This is the typical government solution to something, the cure is far worse than the disease, and the cost will go through the roof, and the taxpayer will be stuck with the cost--as always. Fire those lobbyists immediately, end all this nonsense. This thing will continue to grow until it fills every corner of the state and sucks every conceivable dollar from every taxpayer.

utahboni
Ogden, UT

With the current gas prices, a commute to SLC from Ogden at 25mpg is around $14. With an ECO pass, mass transit saves money.
UTA could save expenses by reducing the number of inspectors they have on the trains, i.e., people who just sit there and count the number of people who get off and on at each stop. They could replace them with the kind of electronic eye that some businesses have when you enter and exit the door. I've been on some trains where there are six inspectors, two for each car, but they all sit in one car and gossip. What an egregious waste of money.
Another way they could entice more riders is to replace the uber-incompetent scheduler in the Meadowbrook office which generates the bus schedules for the south and west valleys. The bus connections are mostly seamless in SLC, but go south or west, there are many 25-29 minute connection waits. Once in a while there will be a bus schedule that works well for a lot of people but at the next change day it will be altered seemingly to disenfranchise as many people as possible with evil glee.

JayTee
Sandy, UT

You ought to see the time and money that's going into this Draper line project; it's nothing short of phenomenal. I'm thinking it will take 150 years of savings to cover it--IF they have the ridership, which I seriously doubt. The assumption is that everyone wants to run downtown every day, and they have plenty of time to get there. Of course many special interest groups and even politicians are making a ton of money on the deal, and it's undoubtedly a lot of stimulus money (i.e., money we don't have helping to push us to the $16 trillion deficit level very soon), so we should all be happy, right? Definition of an honest politician: One who, when bought, STAYS bought. I'm betting with all the incentives provided by this monopolistic boondoggle, they'll stay bought.

Ms Molli
Bountiful, Utah

I see Utahans bragging all the time about how healthy financially the State is. I'd really like to see DN do some homework and compare the amount of federal dollars given per State and then allocate per person in each State. Seems as though the State of Utah is always there with its hand out for more federal money.

Rational
Salt Lake City, UT

Reading, reading, reading...

Wait for it....

"That could leave the agency and local cities with two painful options once the lines are completed: Cut service or ask area residents for more money to operate the trains and buses."

And there it is. More taxes to pay for an inefficient GOVERNMENT system (are there any other kind?)

As if the feds $60 trillion in debt and unfunded obligations weren't enough, Utah had to spend money on lobbyists to run up the bill. THAT is where the deficits come from -- PEOPLE, special interests and local governments running to the feds for more, and of course, the feds don't say no, they just pass the cost along to the next person. Only guess what, folks: other people may be paying for OUR projects, but we are in turn paying for theirs. WAKE UP. This article is all about what is WRONG with America!

srw
Riverton, UT

toshi1066 wrote,
"My problem with Frontrunner, other than it takes forever to go any distance, is that the cost of going to SLC from Ogden is roughly the same as in my own vehicle and I can drive directly to the place I want."

For a long time I made the mistake of estimating the cost of driving somewhere based on the cost of fuel. I now realize that the total costs are much higher! The cost per mile depends on many things, but I think 30 cents per mile is a very conservative estimate. So let's consider one round trip between Ogden and SLC, 36 miles each way. At 30 cents per mile, the cost would be $21.60 to go to work and back one time, assuming you don't have to pay for parking. You can ride FrontRunner for $10.20 round trip, if you don't have a pass. And you'll be able to read, work, or relax instead of driving.

Dixie Independent
St George, UT

"UTA built trains on the backs of big-money lobbyists..." No the big-money lobbyists have made out handsomely while our kids and grandkids are going to be stuck with the costs of this never-ending boondoggle!

It's past time for citizens to realize that there is no free lunch, or big-money lobbyists, or anybody else paying your bills. It's you and me and our posterity.

Talk about flat-earth thinking. Big city transit systems are all heavily subsidized because they are not cost effective.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The real problem with our governments both local and national is the spending of money to make some businessmen rich instead of providing for the welfare of America.

The return of $500 for every $1 spent is great. For those businessmen who got it. Not so great for the people who paid that outrageous rip off of the taxpayer.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the public could benefit from the investment but after it is built, it’s use is left up to those who want to pay outrageous costs for it’s use. Plus the managers often will discourage it’s use to further their profits.

The profit for business is in the building of public services not in their use. Thus the business lobby is working against to the citizens.

To have better and smaller government, we need to get business out of government. Smaller government without reform will just make it easier for unscrupulous businessmen to rob the taxpayer.

JWB
Kaysville, UT

This article is a little skewed as Primary Elections are coming up and this will drive some people to vote, maybe. However, lobbyists, like any group involved in the public and private sector can be good and bad. Senators and Legislators, bureaucrats and elected officials are not all knowledgeable or have the ability to gain all the information they need to make decisions. These same people, government and lobbyists, can have some devious ways or the best of intentions, one or both parts. However, citizens can vote out the politicians or the government can work on bureaucrats through their fraud, waste and abuse programs but that takes a system that works in Utah, even though it may take some time. The Department of Alcohol, etc is one of those examples, whether individually or as the whole department, etc. Lobbyists register through the Lt. Governor's office and have some rules but there are always ways for them to find holes and beat the system, for awhile. The UTA does require some lobbyists to help through the muddled process in DC to extract what they can to help our people and businesses have a good system. Thanks to very GOOD people.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Lest we forget, for every dollar spent by UTA for lobbyist, there are many dollars spent by the oil and automotive industries to prevent public transportation.

EJM
Herriman, UT

People complain on here all the time, especially our locally and nationally elected politicians about the size of out national debt. Where is their outrage about accepting federal dollars for TRAX when we really don't need it? Mind you I love riding TRAX. But we seem to have a disconnect with the posturing of our politicians about the big bad federal government and it's intrusiveness while at the same time having our hands out saying "Gimme me more". Hypocrisy at its worst.

1conservative
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

Its unfortunate that the UTA board of directors don't take their job seriously. Really, all they are is a rubber stamp for anything UTA mgmt. wants, (including increasing their salaries).

We NEED mass public transit, but sadly, SOME involved with issues of public trust have just used their positions to ENRICH themselves.

Recently I think the Guv. appointed the outgoing LDS presiding bishop David Burton to the UTA board. MAYBE he can bring some credibility and reforms to the organization, but I'm not holding my breath.

UTA is institutionally flawed from the top down. Unless/until the "board" switches out upper mgmt. things are gonna be the same.

Maybe we should privatize it or put it under UDOT, which is a natural fit.

I have written to my state representative (Janice Fisher D- West Valley), and she has tried to make some effect at the state level but many in the legislature don't give the issue much attention.

Don't just complain here. Let your state legislator know your feelings. UTA certainly aren't going to "change their stripes" until they are forced to by higher powers at the legislature.

JDL
Magna, UT

All that is needed is for people to read the UN's Agenda 21 documents. The Idea is to force people into the European system of High Density living and dependence on Government. Transit Oriented Developments is a case in point. Governor Huntsman and Envision Utah were/are a miniature Agenda 21 package.

UTA has prostituted themselves to the Redistribution Money Masters and have unapologetically created indentured servants of the people to uphold and maintain their Priestcraft.

This train system is also one of the most dangerous and deadly transportation nightmares.

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