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Comments about ‘In our opinion: The UTA faces a decrease in ridership with elimination of TRAX free fare zone’

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Published: Friday, July 27 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Deserthiker
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

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.

  • 6:41 a.m. July 27, 2012
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trapdinutah
South Jordan, UT

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?

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

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.

Makid
Kearns, UT

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.

susandm
SLC, UT

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.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

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.

Shawnm750
West Jordan, UT

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.

red state pride
Cottonwood Heights, UT

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.

My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT

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.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

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 again.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

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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