SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The Utah Transit Authority hopes that no fares will mean clean air on two days next week.
On Thursday, February 28th and Friday, March 1st anyone can ride Frontrunner, TRAX or UTA buses for no charge, courtesy of the UTA, Intermountain Healthcare, and the Utah Clean Air Partnership.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson attended the announcement Wednesday at the UTA Intermodal Hub Downtown.
“If we can get people to say ‘Hey it’s the dead of winter. The air’s not so great. We’re going to hop on board a bus or a train’. They might be able to expand their user base and that’s the point,” Mayor Wilson said. “We want people to get out of their cars and take advantage of other options.”
But it’s a tough sell in a place where we love the convenience of our cars.
ABC4 News asked Sugar House resident Celeste Lindeman how often she rides public transit.
“Ummmm maybe once a week at most. More like a couple of times a month,” she said. “If it doesn’t seem like it’s going to take me there any faster, I’ll use my car.”
Alyssa Angell uses her car to commute from her Sandy home to her job Downtown.
“For me, it’s easier for me to drive because I drive from home to work and I drive out to extracurricular activities after work,” Angell said. “So for me, it’s easier and more efficient with my time to just drive in from home.”
So is a free $5 roundtrip enough incentive to leave the SUV in the garage? Probably not, but officials would at least like drivers to give it a try.
“A pizza place will give a 50 percent off coupon and then people say “Hey, you know what? I like that pizza. I’ll keep trying that place, go back to that place every single time. That’s kind of this model,” Utah Clean Air Partnership Executive Director Thom Carter said. “Once people see they like it and see its part of their solution…we hope they’ll be willing to pay to continue to ride.”
The last time they did this back on December 22nd, 2017 the UTA says they saw a 23 percent rise in ridership, estimating that 22,000 addition riders took advantage of Free Fare Day, preventing tons of pollution from entering the atmosphere.