Utah Transit Authority to expand service, make improvements

Posted at 9:31 PM, Oct 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-09 08:56:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- For those who rely on public transit to get around, the cost of travel will remain the same--for now.

In its 2015 budget proposal, the Utah Transit Authority plans to maintain its current customer fares, while expanding its holiday service.

UTA Spokesman Remi Barron said they aim to serve a variety of customer needs.

"Some people have to work," he said. "Some people want to get to the fireworks in Sugar House Park. They'll be able to do that now, and we're happy to be able to provide that service."

Beginning next year, the agency will be up and running for three extra days, providing service on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

"We'll have Saturday service, which includes FrontRunner, TRAX, bus services on these holidays, which we haven't had in the past," Barron said.

The addition is just one piece of the $347 million budget, which Barron contends is focused on improving the customer experience.

Based on feedback from the public, the agency is focusing on making technological improvements to its system. The proposal calls for spending approximately $2.5 million to upgrade its WiFi system on the Frontrunner trains, while another $275,000 will go toward designing a new mobile app and online ticketing system.

"It'll respond to the customers' demands of today, instead of where it was designed several years ago," said Bob Biles, the Chief Financial Officer for UTA.

The plan has gained high praise from one of the agency's critics, Alex Cragun, who is a member of the Utah Transit Rider's Union.

"I think it's a great step in the right direction, and I can't wait to see more of this," Cragun said.

Cragun challenged UTA board members last month to ride the system for a week, in an effort to highlight problems he has had with the service.

However, next year's plan seems to address some of the issues he's faced in the past.

"Late night service, better Saturday and Sunday service, basically a continuation of what people need, which is a consistent, reliable public transportation," Cragun said.

The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposal from November 1 to November 28. A public hearing to discuss the plan is scheduled for November 19, during the agency's board meeting.