Dear UTA Riders
Welcome to Rider's Digest. Whether you are a UTA bus, TRAX, FrontRunner, paratransit or vanpool rider, we are talking to you. Every quarter you'll be able to find out what's “news” at UTA. We'll let you know about new services, places to go on transit and people you might meet while riding UTA. We'll also talk about service enhancements and provide updates on happenings throughout our system.
Transit Police Receive Invisible Disabilities Training
The small blue puzzle piece that UTA Transit Police Department officers wear on their lapels might not mean much to the average person. To a person with an autism spectrum disorder, however, it signifies the officer understands their needs and is there to help.
Every officer in the department has been specially trained to identify and assist riders with autism and other types of “invisible disabilities” - disabilities that can influence a person’s behavior but aren’t always apparent by looking at them. The training teaches officers how to distinguish between riders with disabilities who may need assistance and riders who are intentionally evading police or refusing to listen to police commands.
“People on the spectrum often engage in behaviors that can be misinterpreted,” said UTA Transit Police Chief Fred Ross, who created the program. “They won’t look you in the eye, they won’t talk to you, and it can mimic the behavior of someone who is trying to elude police.”
This training proved to be critical last year when a young man with non-verbal autism ran away from home and made his way onto the UTA system. UTA Police were notified and were able to safely persuade the man off the train, call his family, and keep him safe and calm by watching the trains until his mother picked him up.
“It would be foolish for us to not be trained on every possible aspect to be better guardians and ambassadors for people with disabilities,” Ross said.
UTA Connects People and Jobs
Did you know transit in Salt Lake City is better at connecting people to their workplaces than systems in much larger cities such as Phoenix, Houston, San Diego and Atlanta? Based on a study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Salt Lake City is ranked 15th out of 49 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. when it comes to job accessibility via transit. UTA Operations, Capital and Assets Vice President Todd Provost reports this measurement is one of the top indicators of a community's health and is directly related to its quality of life. “A ratio is developed that compares and contrasts the number of available jobs, their locations, population size, density and location, and the availability of transit options for employees,” Provost said. “This clearly demonstrates transit service makes a real difference in people's lives here.”
UTA Offers Mobile Ticketing
UTA recently enhanced the customer experience by debuting a new way to pay transit fare. With the new UTA GoRide app, riders can purchase TRAX, S-Line or bus fare directly from their smart phones. Tickets can be purchased in advance and can be bought for multiple riders. When ready to ride, customers can activate their tickets and show the activation screen to their bus driver or to a fare inspection officer as proof of fare. There's no need to print out a ticket.
Anyone can download the UTA GoRide on an iPhone or Android smart phone that has Internet access. Go to your app store and search for “UTA GoRide.” Fares available for purchase include a one-way ticket, a day pass or ski bus fare. FrontRunner tickets are not currently available on UTA GoRide, as the station-based fare structure requires additional development. UTA is actively working on this and anticipates adding FrontRunner tickets in early 2018.
More details about the UTA GoRide app can be found at rideuta.com.
UTA Welcomes New Board of Trustees Chair
Greg Bell was named as the new UTA Board of Trustees chair. Bell's term started in December when the term of Robert McKinley, the previous chair, expired. As chair, he is responsible for leading the 16-member board as it works to set UTA policy and shape agency goals. He has been a board member since September 2016.
In a recent interview, Bell said his long-term goal as UTA Board of Trustees chair is to help the public realize UTA is part of the solution to issues like population growth and air quality.
Before serving on the UTA board, Bell served as Utah lieutenant governor from 2009 to 2013. He was a member of the Utah Senate from 2003 to 2009 and served as the mayor of Farmington from 1994 to 2002. Bell also has chaired Envision Utah, a nonprofit organization designed to promote sustainable growth along the Wasatch Front, and he currently works as president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association.
Improved Park City Service Introduced in November
UTA recently improved its bus network to Park City by increasing service on the PC-SLC Connect route between the Meadowbrook TRAX Station and Kimball Junction.
The improvements to the PC-SLC Connect, also known as route 901, began Nov. 19. Morning westbound trips have been added to give people who work or live in Park City an efficient way to connect with TRAX at the Meadowbrook Station, the 3900 South Park & Ride and other locations in Millcreek. The service also features new afternoon trips to Park City to assist late-shift workers.
The ending location for the route has also changed, and service now terminates at the Kimball Junction Transit Center, where riders can easily connect with local Park City bus service.
Adjustments were also made to route 902, which offers service to between Park City and Salt Lake County on the weekends. Schedules and maps for both routes can be found at rideuta.com.
Students Explore Technical Careers at UTA
UTA is participating in a program sponsored by the Governor's Office of Economic Development called Utah Diesel Technician Pathways. It is designed to create opportunities for high school students to explore careers in the transportation industry. During a recent visit to UTA, Jordan Academy for Technology and Careers student Allan Raxtun recently tightened the bolts on a bus's wheelchair ramp while Transit Vehicle Technician Hector Lalyre observed his work. The two then descended into the mechanic pit below the bus to check the radius rods that prevent the vehicle from swaying back and forth.
“He'll do everything that I'd do,” Lalyre said. “I just make sure that it's done correctly, and if he doesn't, I get in there and show him the proper way to do it.”
Each student will spend four hours at UTA, and UTA will host approximately 50 students during the year.
“We try to give them experience on everything that happens in the shop,” said UTA Manager of Vehicle Performance Gareth Graham.
This is the second year UTA has participated in the program. Starting in 2018, UTA will also provide internships for Salt Lake Community College students interested in becoming diesel technicians.