To help offset the rising costs of fuel associated with their services the Utah Transit Authority's board of director's unanimously approved a fuel surcharge fee that will increase rider fares by 25 cents.

With the surcharge added, a one-way ticket for adult passengers will be $2, at least until the board reviews the surcharge fee again in October. Then, depending on the price of fuel, the cost per ticket could decrease or increase again to meet UTA's fueling needs.

The surcharge will raise approximately $200,000 in monthly funds through rider fares, helping to lower a $5 million dollar deficit that UTA officials are predicting. That is primarily because of the current price of oil, which is hovering around $130 a barrel.

Terry Diehl, chair for UTA's planning and development, said that staff has managed to trim $2.7 million from the annual budget through things such as hiring delays and reductions in contract services. Yet even with these adjustments and the fuel surcharge, Diehl said, "We are still not made whole."

Members of the public spoke to the board before the vote voicing concerns that the fuel surcharge could limit accessibility for low-income individuals and the disabled because they are often living on fixed incomes and could be priced out of public transportation. Jerry Costly, a member of the Disabled Rights Action Committee, urged board members not to pass the surcharge until they could answer how low-income and disabled riders could be helped.


E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com