Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
FILE - UTA reports its Free Fare Friday promotion on Dec. 22 resulted in a 23 percent overall increase in system usage, with a combined total of approximately 31,732 additional boardings, the equivalent of an estimated 22,829 more passengers.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority reports its Free Fare Friday promotion on Dec. 22 resulted in a 23 percent overall increase in system usage, with a combined total of approximately 31,732 additional boardings, the equivalent of an estimated 22,829 more passengers.

To calculate individual riders, UTA used the total number of boardings and assumed that each rider transferred 1.39 times, a figure calculated using findings from its 2015 rider survey.

FrontRunner experienced the largest increase with an additional 11,982 boardings, the agency said. Taking into account an average of 18,034 riders during each of the previous five weekdays, FrontRunner accommodated a total of 30,016 passengers on Free Fare Friday, a 66 percent increase.

TRAX, which averaged 60,363 boardings during the previous five weekdays, saw an additional 19,462 riders that day for a total of 79,825 passengers, a 32 percent increase, UTA said.

The agency said UTA buses saw a only modest bump in ridership with several hundred more bus riders using the system on Dec. 22 compared to the average of the five previous weekdays, with 61,735 boardings reported on fixed route buses.

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UTA said the increase in ridership equated to removing 17,560 vehicles from Utah roads. An additional 3 tons of pollutants and 200 tons of greenhouse gases were prevented from entering the atmosphere, it said.

“Free Fare Friday was designed to encourage people to try public transit — and it worked,” Jerry Benson, UTA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Thousands of riders boarded our buses and trains, and we were able to save several tons of pollution from entering our atmosphere during a critical time of year for air quality. We hope this translates to more Wasatch Front residents who are willing to leave their cars at home and ride UTA again, especially during inversion season.”