SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 NEWS) – Thousands of folks took advantage of the UTA Free Ride Days early Thursday morning.
UTA is offering free rides to Utahns in an effort to get more people to think about and ride public transportation.
“We just want to encourage everyone to come out. Everything is free. Every mode of transportation in our system will be free. So if everybody is wondering about that, everything is free, free, free,” said UTA Spokesperson Cark Arky.
The rides are free on all UTA’s services Thursday and Friday.
Arky added, “We expect it to be crowded, we do, and we hope that people will bear with us. We are gearing up for it as best as we possibly can.”
The free rides are great news for riders like South Jordan’s Rose Scott who needed to catch the Blue Line in a rush.
“I didn’t have to hurry and get out my UTA ride pass thing and figure it out and run to the train at the same time. So I really appreciate it,” she said.
Other folks who rode the buses in Salt Lake City got to meet Mayor Jackie Biskupski for the first time as she handed out local donuts from Banbury Cross.
“It’s been great. People seem to be very happy. The rides were very nice, they were clean. People are polite. It was a great experience,” the mayor said.
“People were pretty [much] into their own thing. Like they were either working or listening to music. The commute seems very regular for those who were on the bus this morning. Some people were first timers giving it a go and they thought it was pretty neat that I got on with them this morning.”
For riders like Sophia Nicholas, riding UTA is more of a safety issue.
“I actually feel safer on transit than I do driving with people who are on their phones, and you know rushing around trying to hurry to get to work,” she said. “I really do feel safe on transit and the bus.”
For folks like Arky, it’s about bringing his grandchildren on TRAX at least once a week.
“We are trying to raise a new generation of kids who are introduced to public transportation and are comfortable using that,” He said, “It’s a safe system and we feel like this is the way to teach a whole generation a different way of getting around.”
Nicholas hopes more Utahns from Provo to Ogden and over to Park City will take advantage of UTA and public transportation to make it a common practice.
She said, “It might take a little longer but you have a lot more stress-free commute; you’re doing something for the air, and you get to read a book, or check your emails, or catch up with your friends.”
Friends who may be able to get their bosses to opt in on UTA’s rideshare program and cut down on air pollution.
“There are a lot of companies that do that with the pass program. There [are] other companies that have a lot of there employees use our vanpool program where they rideshare and carpool together in the vans they rent from us; and they find that to be more economical, more efficient, and they like riding together to work,” Arky said. “So there is a lot of options for companies to take advantage of.”
Many of the operators at UTA say to expect a busy commute Thursday afternoon into the evening and again during the Friday morning rush hour.