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"Four percent doesn’t get us doubling by 2020," said trustee Keith Bartholomew. "But 4 percent is more than double the expected population increase next year. So what we essentially are saying is we want to grow our ridership faster than our population."
Added Henderson: "We are going to need [extra] spending to meet that goal [to double ridership] by 2020."
Eye to the future
Among the Utah Transit Authority’s many new goals for 2020 are:
» Double ridership
» Reduce average customer trip times by 25 percent
» Increase levels of service by 50 percent
» Support full funding of the 2040 Unified Transportation Plan, which UTA says would require higher sales taxes.
Ridership up • UTA General Manger Michael Allegra told the board that ridership has picked up recently. It was flat or down a little earlier this year — despite completion of the new airport TRAX and the Salt Lake City to Provo FrontRunner extension. That changed in late summer when the Draper TRAX extension opened and fare promotions were added.
Although ridership for the first nine months of 2014 is up just 2.5 percent, it rose 12 percent in September, he said. "We had a lot of special events [like football games] at the University of Utah," Allegra added. "We had Comic Con."
Ridership has been helped by things such as the University of Utah paying for sports tickets that are good all day on UTA, the Utah State Fair offering free return trips, and UTA offering a 20 percent discount to people who use new electronic FAREPAY cards in the next five months.
Also last month, Salt Lake City and UTA announced they are teaming to allow city residents to buy an annual pass — good on TRAX, FrontRunner, buses and the Sugar House Streetcar — for $360. Such passes cost others $198 a month, or $2,376 a year. So Salt Lake City residents could save $2,0126 a year. That program may be expanded if it works well in Salt Lake City, Allegra has said.
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