Once again, the board of the Utah Transit Authority is ignoring the voice of people with disabilities as they try to balance their budget.
In January, UTA held hearings for a proposed rate increase only for those who must use the paratransit system for transportation. Paratransit (Flextrans) is the bus system designed to serve those who because of a disability cannot use the mainline system. Over 300 folks came, testified, and told UTA what the increase would do to them and their fixed incomes. Only one person was for the increase.
In spite of the overwhelming outburst (or possibly because of this), the board of UTA chose to increase fares for all bus patrons. If the board thinks the increase is evenhanded, they all failed their sixth-grade math classes.
The adult, premium express, day pass and ski shuttle fares will increase 25 percent. This 25 percent will be a real imposition for those who pay $45-plus to ski. The elderly and disabled increase is 58 percent and the paratransit fares a whopping 250 percent! This will mean a $5 round trip to see the doctor, grocery shop or see a movie for a person with a disability who has limited transportation choices.
Looking at the increase for passes, the gap widens further. Bus riders face a 41 percent increase, from $32 to $46. Seniors and disabled bus patrons will pay a 100 percent increase, from $11 to $22. True to form, the increase for those who have no transportation options face a 250 percent increase, from $32 to $90. Many who must use the Flextrans are on SSI (Supplemental Security Income) at $530/month.
Is this the safe, accessible, affordable, available transportation that UTA touted when the 1/32-cent tax increase was provided by all the taxpayers? The corporate greed of the UTA Board of Directors is showing as they balance their out-of-kilter books on the backs of people with disabilities.
West Valley City