The UTA Board of Trustees’ Finance and Operations Committee approved the agency’s 2018 Tentative Budget. The budget will now be forwarded to the full board on December 13 for final approval.

The move follows a month of gathering public and stakeholder feedback on the budget, during which time UTA received requests for more service. UTA President/CEO Jerry Benson said that in response, the agency will seek partnerships with cities and organizations to improve service, in a similar manner to UTA and Park City’s partnership on PC-SLC Connect bus service and the agency’s partnership with Salt Lake City on the S-Line.

“It’s one more way we can add more value to the public using the resources we have,” Benson said.

Also in response to public feedback, UTA will increase fare enforcement on its existing bus and rail system as well as on the Provo-Orem BRT line, which will begin service in August 2018.

The 2018 Tentative Budget also allocates $1 million to improve directional signage in the system and $1.25 million to improve security on TRAX. Bus service in Weber and Davis counties is planned to be increased by 6 percent using Prop 1 funds. Also included in the budget is the start of revenue service for the Provo-Orem TRIP project. Overall, UTA’s Tentative 2018 budget includes a 3 percent increase in bus revenue miles system wide.

Other items in UTA’s Tentative Budget include funding for 135 new vehicles, including 29 buses, 2 trolley cars, 29 paratransit buses and 75 vans, which will replace aging, less efficient models. The budget also includes some capital costs for the implementation of the federally-required Positive Train Control system on FrontRunner and an additional $200,000 to implement electric buses.   

Another major component of UTA’s 2018 Tentative Budget is $62.8 million earmarked for keeping the system in a state of good repair. The agency’s State of Good Repair program includes improvements that will be made to some of the oldest parts of UTA’s TRAX system, including replacing switches and overhauling light rail vehicles.

“I’m happy to be talking about service improvements, happy to be talking about the use of our system,” Benson said. “These are little things, but over time they are going to make a big difference.”

UTA is committed to being a frugal, cost-conscious steward of public resources. New bonding, planned since 2010, will be used solely for capital expenses on projects like Provo Orem TRIP and the Airport TRAX Station relocation. Bonding allows UTA to continue essential capital maintenance work and honor contractual commitments, while also increasing service levels, maintaining existing service and keeping equipment in good repair. In addition to the planned bond issue for capital and state of good repair projects, UTA is undertaking a refunding of a portion of its 2012 bonds which is expected to achieve an $8 million savings.

The approval of the 2018 Tentative Budget by UTA’s Finance and Operations Committee is one step in a multi-step process. Budget planning for UTA begins as early as July, and budget priorities are set in alignment with the UTA Board’s strategic plan and goals. Once a tentative budget is drafted, it is available for public review and input for 30 days, and changes are often made to the budget based on public feedback.

UTA’s 2018 Tentative Budget will be taken up by the agency’s Board of Trustees during its regular board meeting scheduled for Dec. 13. Prior to the meeting, information on the final proposed budget will be available for review at and public comment will be accepted via UTA’s website. Public comment will also be accepted during the Dec. 13 board meeting.