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.
The main feature in this premier edition is a report on the “State of UTA,” recently presented to the agency's board of trustees by new President and CEO Jerry Benson. Benson spent several months talking with riders, employees, and stakeholders, including elected officials, community service providers, and business leaders, to get their perspectives on UTA and its services.
State of UTA
UTA President and CEO Jerry Benson recently reported on the “State of UTA” to the agency's board of trustees. The “State of UTA” report is the result of Benson's three-month listening tour, during which time he traveled across the Wasatch Front to learn from the experiences of riders, business owners, UTA stakeholders and community representatives. The report includes initiatives for enhancing service, revamping financial policies, and improving public engagement and community relations.
“UTA is going back to basics, with a renewed focus on people, smart fiscal policy and service,” said Benson. “We'll focus on making the system work better for more people, improving customer interactions and encouraging transit-friendly communities. We must align our employees, our financial resources and our service to provide the best, most-responsive transit system possible.”
While listening and learning what customers, partners, employees and other stakeholders have to say about the agency, Benson said he heard UTA is a needed and valued service.
“People were generally pleased with UTA's offerings, but we have gaps to fill as people want more service.”
In the coming years, UTA will concentrate on the areas of people, money and service.
“We will focus on riders and the customer experience as well as on supporting UTA employees who serve our passengers and maintain our vehicles, equipment and physical infrastructure,” Benson said.
2017 People Initiatives:
- Reorganize personnel functions under a chief people officer to support employee training and professional development opportunities.
- Increase opportunities for public engagement.
- Provide more and better information.
- Live-stream board meetings.
- Build partnerships with communities and stakeholders.
2017 Money Initiatives:
- Revamp budget practices: limit borrowing, leasing and dipping into reserves.
- Manage current debt prudently.
- Continue to look for opportunities to reduce costs.
- Carefully and transparently evaluate budget implications of potential new commitments and set expectations with partners accordingly.
- Maintain the network in a state of good repair: replace buses and overhaul elements of TRAX.
2017 Service Initiatives:
- Implement Proposition 1 service improvements in Davis, Weber and Tooele counties.
- Assess and adjust key routes and schedules to improve service.
- Enhance UTA's website to provide more and better information.
- Complete the installation of faster, more-reliable Wi-Fi on FrontRunner trains.
- Explore innovative partnerships that expand and enhance UTA service and improve customer convenience and experience.
- Simplify UTA's fare system and improve reliability of ticket vending machines.
Benson told the board in his State of UTA report these changes will help the agency prepare for population growth and a new generation of riders. The state's population has tripled since UTA was organized in 1970 and is expected to double again in the next 20 to 30 years. Today's riders are younger with more varied trip purposes, and fewer riders have driver's licenses.
“UTA is in a new era,” he said. “The era of large capital construction projects is behind us for now, and we're going to focus on service. The organization will be remade to match the era that we're in.”
Moving forward, Benson said he plans to continue his efforts to gather feedback from riders and others in the community.
“I plan to make it part of my work day, work week and work month,” he said. “It's a wonderful way to be reminded of the difference we make in this community.”
UTA Increases and Enhances Seasonal Ski Service
UTA debuted new ski bus service to the Cottonwood canyons in December. The improved service features a 35 percent increase in canyon trips with 15-minute frequency during peak travel periods. Additionally, the new service offers easier connections with TRAX and FrontRunner, as riders can now catch the ski bus at the Murray Central, Historic Sandy and Bingham Junction stations. With ski bus service now available from more rail stations, parking concerns at the base of the canyons are also alleviated. Ski bus riders can now simply park at the stations' Park & Ride lots.
Daily ski bus service in Salt Lake, Utah, Weber and Davis counties, including the debut of route 677 with service from the Layton FrontRunner Station to Snowbasin Resort, began on Change Day, Dec. 18. Complete ski bus schedules and more information can be found at rideuta.com.
UTA awarded grant to improve transit access
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded a $20 million grant to UTA to improve access to its transit system. The grant will fund projects and benefit residents in 26 cities located in Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah and Summit counties.
The award is a federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant that focuses on improving access for people with disabilities and making it easier and safer for cyclists and pedestrians to use transit. The grant, as well as local matching funds, will be used for hundreds of projects ranging from sidewalks and ADA ramps to bike lanes and pedestrian bridges.
“This is great news for the people UTA serves. The agency and its partners are working to make it easier and safer for people to move throughout the region,” said UTA President and CEO Jerry Benson. “TIGER grants are very competitive, and this award validates how we do things in Utah—with collaboration and sound planning.”
UTA's partners during the TIGER grant application process include the Utah Department of Transportation, the Mountainland Association of Governments, the Wasatch Front Regional Council (WFRC), six counties (Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah and Summit) and 26 cities. Additional support came from non-profits, advocacy groups, and state and local government organizations including Bike Utah, the Jordan River Commission, PRATT, Weber Pathways, Utahns for Better Transportation, UCAIR, the Governor's Office of Economic Development, State of Utah Resource Coordinator, Utah Clean Cities, Utah Department of Health, Weber-Morgan Health Department, Utah Transit Riders Union, GREENbike, and the Weber, Davis and WFRC active transportation committees.
April 9 is the next UTA Change Day
The next time UTA alters schedules and routes will be on April 9. As the date approaches, consult rideuta.com for information on changes to routes and schedules.