SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Transit Authority (UTA) announced that 22,000 additional riders used mass transit on ‘Free Fare Friday,’ which happened on Dec. 22 of last year.
According to a press release made by UTA, there was a 23 percent ridership increase on the free day, compared to days where standard fare rates applied.
“Free Fare Friday was designed to encourage people to try public transit – and it worked,” said Utah President/CEO Jerry Benson. “Thousands of riders boarded our buses and trains, and we were able to save several tons of pollution from entering our atmosphere during a critical time of year for air quality.”
FrontRunner, the UTA’s commuter train service, saw the biggest increase in ridership, at 66 percent. TRAX, UTA’s regional rail service, saw a 32 percent increase.
“It’s encouraging to see so many people embraced Free Fare Friday,” said former City Council Chair Stan Penfold, who led efforts to sponsor the event. “This is a small, but significant example that residents of our great community will respond positively to common sense ways to making a difference on the issues we all care deeply about. The success of Free Fare Friday shows that people are willing to take action.”
According to General Manager of City Creek Center Linda Wardell, the shopping center saw a boost in foot traffic throughout the day.
“The size of the crowds streaming off TRAX trains and into the Center throughout the day and evening was amazing. Stores were packed and some of our restaurants stayed open late to serve hungry shoppers and visitors,” Wardell said.
Surveys about the most recent Free Fare Friday indicated that 21-year-olds made up the largest demographic of ridership that took advantage of the event.
“The increase in ridership equates to removing 17,560 vehicles from Utah roads, saving more than 3 tons of criteria pollution and more than 200 tons of Greenhouse gas,” UTA said in a statement.