Published: Friday, July 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT
Bus/trax trips within the free fare zone are by definition short hops. My own
experience has been that, forced to pay for such a short distance most will
simply choose to walk rather than wait for a ride to come along and spend money.
The walk is generally completed in the time that is spent waiting. Thus the
ride becomes an optional convenience. The individuals who will pay are the
elderly and those with disabilities that make walking difficult. Many such
individuals are on limited budgets and may just avoid downtown altogether rather
than pay. Tha other group that uses the free fare zone are tourists and
visitors. They will cough up the dough, but we lose a valuable perk that
improves their perception of SLC as an accessible, friendly place to visit. In
the long term I don't believe the small increase in revenue is worth the
loss to the hospitable atmosphere of downtown. Eliminating the free fare zone
will generate less new revenue than UTA thinks and result in fewer visitors to
downtown. I don't find that a good trade-off.
As it currently is, I can barely justify driving 3.8 miles to the train, then
waiting for the train, walking 2 blocks to the bus stop taking me to work,
waiting for the bus, then walking from my bus stop to my office. It takes an
additional 35 minutes in the morning, and then, because of poor connections, an
extra 50 minutes in the evening. The only thing that balances that out is that
I can get work done on the train and bus, and I have an eco-pass for which I
don't pay much each year. However, if/when that pass is gone, there is no
way on earth I will take UTA to work. I'll drive my old vehicle to work,
helping to clog up the streets, spewing out all my pollution, and having a
marvelous time listening to KCPW - and using that extra hour each day NOT spent
sitting on my rear end on a train/bus to do something for me. The best this
about this - I am not alone. UTA ridership will drop like a rock. Will the
increase fares offset the decrease in revenue from agencies, universities, an
businesses buying eco-passes?
Is UTA public or is it private? If it is private, then take away the tax
dollars that subsidize it and let it charge the actual cost of service. If it
is public, then do away with fares for everyone.It costs a certain
amount to run a bus or the TRAX per mile. If UTA is public, it should have a
fare structure based on the distance traveled (cost per mile plus a profit
margin).Mixing private business with public money is bad business.
How many of us cannot afford to attend a concert, even though we pay for part of
concerts with tax dollars? For that matter, how many of us cannot afford to go
to the Zoo, yet we subsidize it with tax dollars.Keep private
business private and public business public. Of course ridership
will fall if people have to pay. People are too willing to let somebody else
pay for their UTA fare, just like they're too willing to let someone else
pay for their healthcare costs or for their Zoo tickets.
What UTA should do is create circular buses that follow routes within the
current Free Fare zone. These buses would stay within the zone themselves and
offer no transfers or only transfers to other circular buses.Charge
$0.10 or $0.25 to use the service. There might be a slight drop in riders but
not drastic as charging full price would be, UTA wouldn't need to get new
buses as they would just need to re-appropriate them personnel would stay mostly
static.This would increase revenue for UTA without causing undue
harm to the current users of the Free Fare system. This type of system might
actually increase ridership within the Downtown area. This could also increase
development within the area due to the lower cost routes.
UTA stopped all bus lines along 300 East what an inconvience it is to thoes of
us who used that line. For a state trying to improve the air quality UTA only
encourages us to drive. There is no convienance using mass transit here in Salt
Lake. I know for certin Public funds are used to Subsidize their operation.
Reduce the outragious saleries of the Director and the rest of the
administration. Remember the 99 year agreement for the right-a-way. UTA your
not even close to that.
Consider:UTA is managed by businessmen under the control of other
businessmen.The automotive industry, fuel, vehicles new and old,
highways, repairs and accessories, is probably the largest political lobby
influencing our government other than the military. Public
transportation is counter productive to the bottom line profits of the
automotive group. Therefore UTA will not promote ridership but
instead will discourage it. Further, the tax payers have already
paid for the cost of building public transportation and most of the cost of
it’s operation. For a little bit more the taxpayer could pay the full
bill and allow no fare public transportation.No fare would eliminate
some costs of public transportation. However, the increased ridership would
increase the cost of maintenance, more people means more wear and tear.Increased ridership would mean less money spent on automobile transportation.
Good for people and bad for business.Increased ridership would mean
more money spent with small business and less money spent with big business.
All in all, the no fare would be good for Utah and bad for the
absentee millionaires who don’t even live in Utah.
I think another group that's greatly impacted by eliminating discount
programs is students. The U of U is constantly trading parking lots for more
campus buildings in and is billing itself evermore as a commuter school. Trax,
for those whose schedules are compatible, is bar far one of the most convenient
ways to get to and from the U. Forcing thousands of students to now pay full
price for a Trax pass will overload the remaining parking system up there and
will be an added financial burden to already-struggling students.
I'm certainly not the smartest tool in the shed and maybe I don't have
enough foresight but the editorial position of the DN regarding UTA astounds me.
I don't work downtown so I understand I have a different perspective but
when I do venture there you couldn't pay me to ride one of their trains.
It's not worth my time and trouble. When vehicles powered by natural gas
become the standard mode of transportation we're going to look back at our
folly of building light rail track at 100 grand per foot of track (that
can't be relocated by the way). I'm tired of looking at empty trains
delaying my commute and thinking about the good money I'm spending every
time I buy gas (over .50 per gallon). That money is subsidizing those empty
train cars. Why not spend it on roads that people actually use? And if we
haven't learned that once people become accustomed to getting a service for
"free" then shame on us. No disrespect intended towards anyone who works
for UTA- but I'm sorry that you don't provide a viable service.
Free fare is unfare. No one should get a free or reduced pass unless everyone
can have the same benefits. So how does a non paying ridership benefit the UTA?
Free loaders take seats away from paying customers and its no wonder the UTA is
such a fraud for Utah taxpayers. Most riders get a free ride and those that want
a ride it takes 2-3 hours travel time each way plus lost wages. To
be fair to Utah and all taxpayers the UTA busses and trains and tax support
should be discontinued and save the taxpayers billions of dollars a year in the
state budget. There are many non essential services and public offerings that
can be discontinued to save and reduce the spending budget but buddies and
friendships are getting in the way. UTA is non essential and always has been,
government has abandoned it many times in the past as not cost effective or a
burden taxpayers should carry.
Re: "All in all, the no fare would be good for Utah and bad for the absentee
millionaires who don’t even live in Utah."UTA will never
be good for Utah.But, if liberal powers-that-be have determined we
WILL have this "green" showpiece, come what may, we should abandon all
pretext of it ever paying for itself.UTA is a tax-funded government
program. Fares constitute such a tiny fraction of UTA's costs, it would
cost very little more -- and would save collection and enforcement costs -- to
just give up on the whole fare idea.The increased ridership might,
then, actually produce the supposed benefits we're all paying for --
decreased traffic, pollution, and "carbon footprint."It
would also highlight the fact that riders are freeloaders and, perhaps, hasten
the day when feckless politicians see public transportation for the scam it has
always been and eliminate it [again].Best of all, it might actually
make it possible for me to navigate and park my gas-guzzling pickup in downtown
Before we vote to end UTA the state should try either of a couple of avenues to
see if it could work better.Privatize it, or eliminate its
rubber-stamp "board" of directors and put it under the direction of
UDOT.I ride UTA 3-4x per week, not so much out of financial
necessity, but because I BELIEVE in the concept of "public transit".
Its convenient for me.There are MANY riders of UTA who are, for lack
of a better word, somewhat disabled whether physically, or "have issues"
that disallows them from driving. DUI violations for instance. If those people
can't get to work, we may very well wind up paying more for disability
payments than it costs to run UTA.The state legislature REALLY DOES
need to get involved with UTA and attempt to make changes, something they have
neglected to do so far!UTA, as currently managed, is nothing but a
"money pit" for tax dollars that gets VERY LITTLE oversight.
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