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UTA budget includes more bus, train service

Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 00:03:31-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Transit Authority has approved a $350 million budget that includes an increase in bus and train service.

At its monthly meeting, UTA's Board of Trustees approved the budget for 2016. It will include a 5-percent increase in bus and train service. Riders will also continue to see reduced fare promotions, said Jerry Benson, UTA's interim CEO.

"We made improvements across the service area to bus frequency, weekend coverage and extended hours for both bus service and TRAX," he told FOX 13.

The bulk of UTA's operating money comes from sales tax dollars. Fares only account for a little more than $51 million.

See UTA's operations budget summary here:

UTA  has so far not budgeted for the impact of Proposition 1, which passed in Davis, Weber and Tooele counties. Benson said that money is expected to be available beginning in June.

Even though Salt Lake County voters rejected Proposition 1, Benson said they may see indirect benefits.

"We're going to take our priorities from the local elected officials and the public in those counties," he told FOX 13. "So Davis County especially, priorities for those folks include easy, ready access to Salt Lake, easy access to Frontrunner."

UTA's Board of Trustees continues to attempt reforms following some damning legislative audits that alleged financial mismanagement. On Wednesday, the board was told by its internal auditor that the next legislative audit may not be so harsh.

"Informally, they have accepted all of our responses and all of the recommendations made by the legislative auditor have been implemented," said Isaac Clarke, UTA's internal auditor.

Last month, UTA's board voted to implement some tougher ethics policies with a focus on public transparency. Also, the 2016 budget does not include any bonuses for executives or managers (a UTA spokesman said they had previously agreed not to accept them).

Benson said the board was making strides toward increased public transparency. On Wednesday, two vice-chairs were elected. In public statements issued by UTA, they vowed a focus on transparency and accountability.

"The public can depend on this organization as we reinforce the highest standards of ethics and responsible actions," Chris Sloan said in the statement.