Only a handful of riders showed up at a public hearing Monday to voice their opinion on UTA's proposed rate increases. Their message to the bus company was simple: Premium fares should buy premium service.
UTA is holding a series of public hearings along the Wasatch Front to gather public comments on its proposed rate hikes and some new services it is considering.The six Davis County residents at Monday's hearing mostly agreed the fare increase is not significant but also agreed service needs to improve.
They cited late arrivals, missed connections and instances of drivers getting lost on the routes through the county among their complaints.
Most of the six are regular commuters who travel to Ogden or Salt Lake daily, using the UTA premium or express service. That rate would go from $60 to $61 monthly under UTA's current proposal.
Regular adult fares would increase from 65 cents to 75 cents, monthly passes would go up $1 to $25 for adults and $16 for minors; college student passes would go to $16 from $15, and the summer youth pass would increase $5 to $25.
Hearing officer Jerry Ashurst said all public comments, offered either at the hearings or in writing, will be collected and presented to the UTA board of directors before a decision on new rates is reached.
Richard Hodges, a UTA research analyst, said other changes the bus service is exploring involve use of transfers, employee discounts through their workplace and opening a storefront office and information center in downtown Salt Lake City.
Douglas Cook rides a UTA bus from the Layton Hills Mall to Thiokol in Box Elder County five days a week, a 125-mile and 21/2-hour round trip. While the new air conditioned buses are nice, Cook said, they are mechanically unreliable and suffer from too frequent breakdowns.
"Premium fares are OK, but we would expect a premium service for a premium fare," Cook said.
"We joke on our bus about truth in advertising," said Bradley Johanson. "You know, those TV ads that show people reading or doing work on the bus.," he said, charging the UTA commuter bus he rides is crowded and uncomfortable.
And, he told the hearing officers, "There is always an uncertainty if a bus is actually going to arrive to pick you up."
The next scheduled hearing is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the West Valley City Hall.