Riders ask UTA officials to try using only mass transit, 3 accept challenge

Posted at 9:51 PM, Sep 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-24 23:51:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- How many UTA board members actually use public transit? That was one of the questions posed to the board during Tuesday’s UTA meeting.

Last month, the public challenged all 15 board members to ride nothing but UTA for seven straight days. Three of the board members accepted and completed the challenge: Nina Christenson, Keith Bartholomew and Greg Hughes.

“I find it to be disappointing, but not surprising,” said UTA advocate, Alex Cragun, who proposed the challenge.

Newly elected UTA Board Chair David Burton said he rides public transit often but said he didn’t feel he could take on the challenge.

“I ride transit quite often,” he said. “Will I commit to riding transit exclusively for one week? No, I can’t do that and fulfill my other obligations.”

Cragun said that was the whole idea.

“The point is to use it in a dedicated manner, to have no other necessary means to you, to have that experience,” Cragun said.

On Tuesday, Cragun presented the challenge to the remaining 12 board members for a second time.

Bartholomew was the only person to raise a hand, but he has already completed the challenge.

“Fortunately it’s not my situation; I have empathy for those that the service needs to be improved,” Burton said.

Burton, along with other board members, said they don’t need to take the challenge to understand the issues plaguing public transit.

“I already get that, I know what that is, and I know what a difficult life it is for people who can’t just easily get to a bus or a train,” board member Dan McConkie said.

Burton replaces Hughes as the new board chair. He is the former presiding bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He acknowledged, with the results of a recent audit combined with public criticism, the number one goal for the board is pretty clear.

“Certainly to improve the image of UTA, and the only way you improve image is to improve their service,” he said.