SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As Free Fare February was introduced this month on Utah public transit, officials are reporting a notable increase in usage systemwide.
In an effort to improve air quality in the Wasatch Front, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has nixed all public transit fares for the month of February, hoping to encourage more riders. The effort was initially led by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.
Since the program’s debut, UTA says increased ridership has been reported on all public bus, rail and transit services. The first two weeks of February saw about 20% more riders with Saturdays averaging 34% more and Sundays averaging 27% more.
-Frontrunner is reporting the largest rider increase with weekdays up 33% and Saturday trips up 163%.
-City buses have seen an average increase of 22% on weekdays, 29% on Saturdays and 31% on Sundays.
-TRAX saw ridership increase 16% on weekdays, 18% on Saturdays and 23% on Sundays. UTA On Demand, Paratransit services, FLEX Routes and UVX services have reported anywhere fom a 4%-55% increase as well.
“Salt Lake City will continue to fight for clean air, through policies, programs and education,” says Mendenhall. “Our efforts are much more effective, though, when we have valley- and state-wide partners who join in. Free Fare February is an example of that type of collaboration and I’m excited to see the impact this change has not only on Salt Lake City’s air quality, but on our neighboring communities as well.”
A bill in the Utah State Legislature is proposing to make all public transit fares free — permanently. The bill’s chief sponsor is Representative Joel K. Briscoe, who also serves as president of the Salt Lake City School Board.
Currently, if you’d like to take advantage, all fares are still free across UTA’s entire service area including all UTA bus and rail services, Ski Bus, paratransit service, the Park City-SLC Connect, and UTA On Demand in southwestern Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City – Westside.
To check out all of UTA’s services and ride schedules, click here.