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Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Thom Carter, executive director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie chat after a press conference reintroducing Utah Transit Authority's route 500 Capitol Connector at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. The Capitol Connector was designed to help alleviate limited parking on Capitol Hill during the legislative session and to encourage riders to help reduce air pollution during the winter inversion season.

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City and transit officials showed off new buses engineered to combat air pollution as they touted UTA's Capitol Connector bus service that will start Monday to shuttle people to Capitol Hill during this year's legislative session.

"Let's be honest, if you have ever tried to find a parking spot at Capitol Hill during the session, you know the challenges," Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said Wednesday, noting that "we ... want to assure those who are doing the people's work that they can get around town easily."

This will be the third year that UTA has offered the service.

"While the convenience is great, the primary reason to use this service, and (public) transit in general, is to clear our air," Biskupski said.

According to UTA President and CEO Jerry Benson, the agency has been transitioning older buses to cleaner diesel, compressed natural gas or diesel/electric hybrid buses, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from the fleet by 79 percent and particulate matter by 60 percent since 2009.

This year, UTA will add five all-electric buses to its fleet.

"Each year, UTA riders reduce their emissions by 2,000 tons, which makes a tremendous difference — as one commuter trip in a single trip in a single occupant vehicle produces more than 53 times the emissions of a commuter who walks or bikes to TRAX and uses that to make their commute into work," Benson said.

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The director of a statewide partnership to tackle air pollution was also on hand to give support to the effort.

"Mobile sources like cars account for about 50 percent of our emissions pollution," UCAIR Executive Director Thom Carter said. "Using mass transportation removes vehicles from our roadways and eliminates cold starts."

The Capitol Connector will run every 15 minutes on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. between the Courthouse TRAX station and the FrontRunner North Temple station to the Capitol and back again.

It begins Monday and runs until March 10.