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Audit reveals major concerns about UTA operating procedures

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  • UtahEngineer Sandy, UT
    Aug. 29, 2014 2:00 a.m.

    "UTA...cut... achieve(d) its highest ridership ever — more than 44.2 million trips — and increased farebox revenue."

    What a profound and deceptive claim. Of course ridership increased, they have multiplied the the investment they had in the bus-service-delivery system...(about $100 million in 1996), by Forty-Fold, with the addition of all these trains.

    Bus only ridership was 24.6 million in 1996, according to UTA's National Transit Database report at the FTA.

    So, UTA defines success when they almost double ridership after multiplying investment in the service-delivery part of their system by 40 times.

    The trouble is, there are lots of very important and influential people downtown who will accept their shoddy claim.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 12:15 p.m.

    As I was saying . . .

    That could reduce per rider cost. Also, perhaps, they are subsidized more then UTA.

    Redshirt states that UTA would fail if they had to rely solely on fares. He's probably right. But, of course, the police department, fire department, public works, parks department, etc, would all fail also if they had to rely on only money they could generate.

    These things are called services, and they are part of what societies provide for the communities. It's strange that someone would think NOT having a public transport system, even if it has to be subsidized, in an area like the Wasatch Front, would be acceptable.

    The economic impact of not having public transportation in a modern metropolis would most likely be severe.

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 12:02 p.m.

    "With how price gouging UTA is compared to other public transportation systems, this doesn't surprise me. I've paid less to ride in D.C. and London than here. Just saying, that's a bit odd."

    Maybe nothing odd about it at all. Perhaps DC and London have far higher ridership numbers (I'm sure they would), therefore that could reduce

  • mark Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 28, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    "They could also privatize the whole thing putting "benchmarks" in place for whatever contractor took it over with the goal being to move more people to more places at less cost."

    "Removing the whole top 10% of the salary makers would also, most probably solve the problem. Hire people who REALLY believe in mass transit - not just increasing their own salary."

    So, let me get this straight, you want to privatize UTA (of course they are already, to some extent, which I think is the main problem, but never mind), and yet you also want government (I suppose), to tell them to fire the top 10% of management, and tell them who to hire. Interesting.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Provo, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:34 p.m.

    With how price gouging UTA is compared to other public transportation systems, this doesn't surprise me. I've paid less to ride in D.C. and London than here. Just saying, that's a bit odd.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 7:11 p.m.

    Government of the people: well said and duly noted.

    I'm HOPING???? that the UDOT "losing bid" fiasco was a one-time failure.

    I'm HOPING???? that the legislature will - well, do most ANYTHING to rein in the idiotic malfeasance and waste of taxpayer dollars currently going on at UTA.

    They could also privatize the whole thing putting "benchmarks" in place for whatever contractor took it over with the goal being to move more people to more places at less cost.

    But, have an audit done by an outside firm to guarantee that the contractor didn't try to "fudge" the numbers.

    Removing the whole top 10% of the salary makers would also, most probably solve the problem. Hire people who REALLY believe in mass transit - not just increasing their own salary.

    As I stated before; the ONLY way anything will happen with regards to UTA is if grassroots folks contact their legislator and state their feelings.

    UTA has BIG lobbying efforts on capital hill. It will be hard to get past them.

  • Government OF the people... Abe Kaysville, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 5:48 p.m.

    @FitnessFreak

    I don't know if putting UDOT in charge of this would help at all. They are the ones found giving $15 million to a contractor that lost the bid for the I-15 CORE project a few years ago.

    UTA just needs someone smart, HONEST, innovative, resourceful, and business-minded, like Mitt Romney.

  • Makid Kearns, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 4:44 p.m.

    @No One Of Consequence
    "UTA trains have killed too many and their buses serve too few. It's time for a shakeup."

    I am just curious how many trains have killed someone who wasn't ignoring the lights, bells, whistles, traffic signals, crossing arms, walking on the tracks (trespassing) or doing anything that would cause them to get a ticket if an officer were present?

    I haven't heard of the trains jumping the rails and running over people yet.

    Regarding your statement, have you ever made the same type of statement about the number of highway deaths in the state? Local roads? Pedestrians just walking into traffic? Bike riders not obeying the laws (Motorcycles and Bicycles)?

    I ask the above because I want to know if you are against problems and issues at all levels or just against things that you think are socialist in nature?

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    BTW - I think we desperately need mass transit. If for no other reason than the handicapped/disabled riders who, without it, wouldn't be able to get to work, even though in most cases, they only earn minimum wage.

    But if those folks, in particular, CAN'T get to work - guess who pays?

    At the same time, there's absolutely NO REASON why we have to be wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on the ludicrous salaries of the bosses!

    Not to mention all the smarmy "land deals"!

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:56 p.m.

    Too little too late!

    When UTA says they have "already implemented changes" - what they're REALLY saying is that they will be spending even MORE on lobbyists at the legislature than they already do. (I wish I knew the total figure).

    The lobbyists are the reason UTA has gotten away with so much, for so long!

    There are ONLY two ways UTA can be a service to the community without wasting so much money; fire the top 10% of the bosses, and replace them with people who REALLY want to serve the public, or -put UTA under UDOT.

    The UTA "board" (I use the term loosely) is nothing more than a rubber stamp for ANYTHING management wants. Most of them don't possess the expertise necessary to question ANYTHING management wants. The few of the "board" who do possess even rudimentary fiscal skills are outnumbered by the "board" members loyal to management and the legislature.

    BUT - the ONLY way anything will change at UTA is if the grassroots public gets involved. They hire VERY powerful lobbyists to work the legislature!

  • slave American Fork, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:26 p.m.

    The picture should be much clearer for those wondering the real reason for relocating the prison. UTA officials are confident the Draper and Jordan Valley projects will be successful, well they should be after the development controlled legislature has set it up so they can line their own pockets. The prison move is going to cost us almost a billion dollars and we are supposed to believe that it can’t be done in the same location for much less. The only ones that are going to benefit from this are the developers. The draper parking garage makes much more sense know…

  • lket Bluffdale, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 1:16 p.m.

    the worst is the buss lines to riverton and bulfdale are gone. the busses stop at redwood and 10400 south. so to get to the train you drive 10 min then the train ride is 63 min. and the walk to the u hospital is 10 min. so i dont use uta at all. the west side of town is left on its own again.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:43 p.m.

    To "Happy Valley Heretic" but UTA is a government owned entity. They don't make a profit. This is an example of what liberal policies and socialism bring. You have the well connected politicians sucking the public funds dry, all through a service that they tell us will help the poor.

    If you want to eliminate this type of behavior it is simple, you let UTA operate based on fares alone and turn it into a private entity. I would give it 1 week before it folded.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 12:41 p.m.

    The good, old, right wing, theological, old man network will protect their own.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    Just confirms what everyone has known for a long time, yet the Utah legislature turned a blind eye. Finally an audit, but does anyone think anything will change? No! They will continue to run empty buses to destinations no one wants on a time frame that helps no one. UTA needs to be overhauled and put under the direction of UDOT.

  • Sandy Citizen50 SANDY, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    The article is a clear indication that for a long time UTA has a corrupt organization that greatly benefits a few of the top executives. No where else in the State are executives paid this high of a salary. Additionally, no where else in the Western US are top transportation executives paid this high of a salary. UTA is an important aspect of our community and for our future growth of the State. But we as people of this State need to demand our government to get a better accountability of this great asset of our State. First action we as a public should demand is that Greg Hughes, chairman of the board, be fired. Hughes is part of the of insider trading and cronyism of both the legislature and business and not an adequate solution to fix this mess of corruption.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:48 a.m.

    Socialize the costs, privatize the profits. A Conservative principal practiced heavily in Utah. I don’t usually agree with Flashback, but if we are already socializing the cost
    then socialize the whole program. Tax payers should not be paying a private CEO 4 times as much as the governor makes in a year.

    And they way they price it, it saves you next to nothing to use their system, gas is cheaper than commuter rail, so why ride it. Take some of that executive pay and subsidize those who can least afford it, who are trying to better themselves.

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 27, 2014 9:14 a.m.

    @Bricha - I'm actually wondering what you inferred from the article that gives the impression UTA is tackling the problem "head on." They filed a suit to get their money back from the developer over 2 years ago, but have done nothing since then to pursue it. This is money that was unfairly given in the first place.

    I agree that developing our mass transit program is a good thing, but we can't turn a blind eye to the questionable methods being used by the agency tasked with managing it. UTA is largely subsidized by yours and my tax dollars I want to know that every dollar I spend is being used in the most effective way possible. Padding the pocketbooks of shady developers doesn't meet that criteria in my book...

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 8:26 p.m.

    As an occasional UTA rider I have long known that the first concern of UTA is not providing transportation to those who need it most. Apparently their mission revolves around, as others mentioned above, generating high management salaries, and providing sweetheart deals for developers near Trax and Front Runner stations.

    UTA trains have killed too many and their buses serve too few. It's time for a shakeup.

  • humbug Syracuse/Davis, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 7:59 p.m.

    There is a 99% chance that nothing will be done about this.

  • bricha lehi, ut
    Aug. 26, 2014 7:35 p.m.

    Thank you Deseret News! For those of you who read the whole article (not too many of you as per your comments) will notice that the Deseret News did a terrific job of giving both sides to this story, and getting into the nitty gritty details so that its readers can become more knowledgeable about the topic. For example let’s answer some question one might have about UTA based on the information in the article.

    Are there real problems with UTA? Yes.

    Is UTA addressing those problems head on? Yes.

    Had they taken the report seriously and started to make steps to fix the problems posted? Yes.

    Have they cleaned up their act? Maybe.

    Is there corruption? Probably, but might just be inexperienced employees doing a poor job.

    UTA has made some mistakes, and they might continue to make them. But according to this article it seems that they are trying to implement procedures that could improve their track record. UTA frustrates the crap out of me, but I hope for their success, after all each person who rides the trains is a person not driving. Clearing our roads and our air.

  • byronbca Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 7:24 p.m.

    I wish we lived in a world where the crimes that rich people commit were prosecuted the same way as the crimes that poor people commit.

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    Aug. 26, 2014 7:05 p.m.

    Please don't let these guys continue to run the "company" also, if there were any inside deals they cooked up then they should all be held accountable.

    Anyone who let's this slide is also culpable.

    We have a bunch of frauds in government agencies that are stealing from us all.

    Tired of it.

    We are coming to get you!

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Aug. 26, 2014 6:27 p.m.

    UTA runs empty buses all over town, yet their books show they're profitable. Now an audit turns up "major concerns" about "operating procedures"? I'm shocked, I tell you...shocked.

  • Juggy SAINT GEORGE, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 5:55 p.m.

    UTA is one of the most blatantly corrupt entities imaginable. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. This is not news. I just hope this audit makes some difference. Doubt it. I'd love to see UDOT take control.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 5:38 p.m.

    In order to understand UTA you have to understand that First, and foremost, their main goal is to increase the salaries of the top 10% of executives. Moving people from place to place is a distant secondary concern.

    They are EXPERTS at: lobbying and "promising" cities and towns - well, almost anything to get the city leaders "on board" with expansions and, ultimately, tax increases to fund the proposed expansions.

    They are currently doing this in both Provo and Bountiful with rapid-transit buses (MAX buses).
    What UTA is REALLY doing is "fishing" for tax increases. Of course, most of the tax increases will go to executives' salaries, but local officials "buy in" to their nonsense due to heavy lobbying and all kinds of "promises".

    UTA SHOULD be under the control/direction of UDOT. Its' a natural "fit". BOTH entities SHOULD be in the interests of moving people from one place to another; the difference is with UDOT is that they don't have the ridiculous salaries at the top, and are less subject to special land deals with former/present state lawmakers.

    UTA is a mess.

    Contact your state legislator - PLEASE!

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    I wish I could say I was surprised that another taxpayer-subsidized entity has been found operating with questionable or poor fiscal practices, but this has become a common issue lately... You expect it from our bloated federal government, but we ought to have a higher standard at the state level. There are WAY too many developers involved in Utah politics and taxpayer-funded agencies!

  • Emmanuel Goldstein Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 4:23 p.m.

    Many have been saying that UTA is a corrupt company. Now this just confirms what we have been saying for years. There will end up not being any change because of the backdoor deals going to the politicians on the hill in Salt Lake.

  • netsrik Draper, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 4:22 p.m.

    Wow. I never thought I would agree with anything John Valentine said. But here...yeah. UTA has a lot to answer for.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Aug. 26, 2014 4:18 p.m.

    No consequences, so full steam ahead. Keep on keeping on. Ya don't have to pass an IQ test to run for public office. Collages and students are trying to pull a fast one to with the brilliance of the elected.