Have we given the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) too big a job? As defined in the Utah Public Transit District Act: "To provide a public transit system for the transportation of passengers and their incidental baggage."
This act also stipulates that rates and charges shall be reasonable and, insofar as practicable, result in enough revenue to make the transit system self-supporting.In order to keep the fares low, a quarter-cent sales tax was put in place to fund the transit system. It grows as the population grows and is now providing over $30 million a year. Federal grants average $15 million a year.
The question: Are the rates reasonable? The UTA has established a deep discount program that offers monthly passes for as little as $1.17 for U. of U. students and employees to as much as $6 per month for LDS Church employees. The standard student fare is $15 per month, almost 13 times as much as the U. student fare. The standard adult fare is $24 per month, over 17 times as much as the U. employee fare.
Yes, ridership has increased, but is this the way we want our tax dollars to work? Why wouldn't lowering fares on all of the routes increase ridership commensurately? Charging most of the citizens top fare while providing the same service to special groups for a token price is neither fair nor equitable. Is it reasonable?
If the same initiative and effort had gone into providing good routes, good service and reasonable rates as has been spent to set up deep discount busing and to promote the light-rail boondoggle, we would have a good bus service. And we would have time to plan a good, safe rapid transit system designed to serve the entire area.
Salt Lake City