SALT LAKE CITY — Come summer, Utah Transit Authority riders will be asked to pay more for their transportation.

However, depending on whether a fuel surcharge is in effect or not, it will be the same price as riders are paying now — $2.25 for a regular, one-way fare.

The first phase of a new fare increase, approved by the UTA board of trustees Wednesday, is slated to take effect May 1, a day after the current 25-cent surcharge is scheduled to drop off. But if diesel fuel prices rise above $4 per gallon, a new surcharge will likely be imposed, according to the agency's new fuel surcharge policy, which was also adopted Wednesday.

The soonest another fuel surcharge could take effect is Aug. 1, said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

The 25 percent fare increase will take effect gradually during the next two years, with the first increment happening May 1. Another hike won't happen again until April 1, 2012, when a regular fare price will be $2.35, and then again on the same date in 2013, when the fare will assume its full rate, at $2.50, according to the fare change proposal previously presented to the board.

Fares account for approximately 11 percent of UTA's annual revenues and make up 20 percent of UTA's overall budget. Nationally, transit agencies earmark fares as 30 percent of their budgets, according to UTA.

The newly approved changes are likely to net the Utah agency an additional $1 million this year and at least $10 million throughout the three-year process. After that, the board expects to revisit fare increases and may decide to implement a new process altogether.

Wendy Leonard