"How do we make sure that we get people where they need to go without being stuck on the freeway somewhere?" he said. "We are mass people movers."
The board held a retreat last month to start work on a strategic plan to answer such questions and guide the agency through 2040. Henderson said it distilled many of the discussions into the vision and mission statements and likely areas of focus.
Robert McKinley, chairman of the full UTA board, said, "This is the first time since I've been on the board that the board as a whole has gotten this involved and put this much effort into saying, 'What is it that we really want to be?'"
Part of the discussion at the earlier retreat centered on how to rebuild public trust after controversies involving high executive pay, extensive travel and sweetheart deals with developers.
UTA and federal prosecutors recently announced an immunity deal in exchange for the agency cooperating with an ongoing criminal probe of former board members and employees and land deals.
Henderson said the early outline of the new strategic plan includes four areas of focus, which are still being fleshed out. They include:
• Funding/financing. The current draft notes, "In order to grow and expand our service offerings within our system, the agency will need to identify new and innovative funding strategies." The agency has said current sales tax levels will not fund rail and bus rapid transit projects in long-range plans.
• Strategic partnerships. The current outline says that "involves a concentrated and purposeful effort to work with stakeholders and the public to identify and address the needs and desires of the communities UTA serves."
• Customer experience, marketing and branding. Henderson said that would aim efforts at giving customers good experiences and, "We want to educate the public about who we are and the services we provide."
• Planning and long-term visioning. The draft says UTA "should be a partner identifying and educating stakeholders and the public on the direct links between good transportation networks and good economic development, efficient land use and the general quality of life."
Henderson said the board will continue to work on the outline of the plan through the summer and seek public comment.
McKinley said, "We're not at the end of this process. There's a heck of a lot of hard work yet to come" on the strategic plan.