UTA wants buses and trains every 15 minutes, but who’s going to pay for it?

Posted at 3:25 PM, Aug 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-13 00:32:49-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- If Alex Cragun misses the last bus of the night from work, it's a 90 minute walk home.

That's why he's launched a petition asking the Utah Transit Authority to run more buses and trains, late into the night.

"I just want the option for people who work late, people that can't drive, people that are low income to have the option to get home," Cragun said in an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday.

Read Cragun's online petition here

Cragun has so far collected 2,600 signatures on the online petition, which he plans to present to UTA's Board of Trustees at its meeting later this month. UTA CEO Mike Allegra said they used to offer late night service, but abandoned it because of a lack of riders.

"They have four rail lines now," Cragun countered. "Things have changed and I think it's a good idea to start somewhere."

Allegra said UTA is already looking at increasing bus and train service. At an executive retreat on Monday, Allegra announced UTA's ambitious goal to double ridership by 2020.

"Our goal is to have a bus or train run every 15 minutes all day long, earlier in the morning, later at night, in the middle of the day for the entire Wasatch Front," he told FOX 13.

The number one issue facing UTA, according to Allegra, is frequency of routes. To increase those routes would need more money, he told the UTA Board of Trustees.

"We're looking at all kinds of alternative financing," he said. "We're not relying on the same old model that's carried us to this point."

Possible options include an increase in UTA's portion of the sales tax, partnerships with businesses and changing from a flat $2.50 fare to a distance-based fare.

UTA spokesman Remi Barron told FOX 13 on Tuesday they had no plans to ask for a sales tax increase from the Utah State Legislature.

UTA insists it needs more to provide more.

"We're very efficient, but we don't have the ridership levels that others have, mostly because we don't offer that frequency of service," Allegra said.