Back in January, UTA unveiled our 2030 Strategic Plan with five key priorities. Throughout the year, we’ve been sharing those priorities with you, our riders, and outlining how each helps UTA move Utah forward.

Today, we’re unpacking our fourth priority, Building Community Support. Our goal is to have more than 100 actively engaged community supporters, individuals, or organizations, telling their stories in ways that influence transit-friendly outcomes. We’re working towards this priority in many ways, but it wouldn’t be possible without the help of these three influential UTA teams: Innovative Mobility Solutions, Strategic Long-Range Planning, and Community Engagement.

Innovative Mobility Solutions: Better Transit Sooner

Innovative Mobility Solutions, or IMS, is where we push the envelope on how we can move people in our service area. This department leads the industry in new transit technology, steers pilot projects, and finds new ways to solve old transit problems with the goal of achieving better transit sooner.

This group leads our UTA On Demand service, which began as a pilot in 2019 and now has four service areas! IMS partners with universities near and far to support research projects, like our longstanding work with the University of Utah on air quality monitoring. They also work with private partners like Via, Lyft, Uber, Spin, Lime, and GreenBike to help fill the first- and last-mile gaps, like connecting to and from stops and connecting to traditional services like rail and bus.

A recent project that combines many of the above elements is the UTA On Demand service serving the Tooele County area. After applying for and being rewarded federal funds, IMS began working with our local officials in Tooele to set up the UTA On Demand service. What’s unique about UTA On Demand service is that all the vehicles will be electric. Though we are still acquiring the electric fleet, service began in August 2022. The shift from the traditional flex route to UTA On Demand has more than doubled its average daily boardings — from 90 to 190.

Long-Range and Strategic Planning: Looking Ahead to Meet the Community’s Needs

First “long-range,” refers to developing plans that are 10, 20, or 30 years out. “Strategic” refers to looking across the whole organization, across modes, and across the entire service area to find the best opportunities for service enhancements, given constraints like time, money, and logistical obstacles.

To this end, UTA’s Planning team is facilitating the development of UTA Moves 2050, UTA’s first-ever Long-Range Transit Plan (LRTP) — looking to 2050. This plan focuses on understanding and planning for the future mobility needs of the communities UTA serves. The plan will be updated every four years with participation from riders, partner agencies, and community organizations. A new draft of the LRTP will be ready for public comment soon — stay tuned!

In regard to looking for those opportunities, Long-Range and Strategic Planning has also been working on additional initiatives. The Active Transportation to Transit Plan is focused on how to improve walking, rolling, and biking connections to and from transit stops and stations across the system. The Bus Speed and Reliability Program is an ongoing effort to reduce bus travel times while maintaining on-time service.

Community Engagement: Raising the Voices of All Riders

Lastly, the linchpin to all these efforts is our Community Engagement team. This group houses our traveler trainers (folks that literally teach individuals and groups how to use UTA services), they facilitate our formal public engagement processes and increase the community voice in all of UTA’s endeavors.

Our travel trainers make concerted efforts to reach groups that may be most in need, like working with refugee groups and disability groups. Community Engagement, at large, has actively built relationships with numerous groups and city governments. An example of this is participating in Salt Lake City’s monthly resource fairs that serve lower-income and unhoused individuals. While there, this team provides information on UTA fares, services, and job opportunities. They also connect with the community by attending over 60 events throughout the year.

UTA Employee

One of the team’s special programs is Art In Transit. This student art competition occurs every two years and connects the community through partnerships, celebrates our state via student art, and encourages young people to share their talents.

Each of these departments is unique, but building community support is part of everything they do. We hope the next time they ask for your input online, or you see them representing UTA at an event, you’ll stop and share your experience with them.

To learn more about our priorities, check out our previous blog posts:

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