UTA will launch new fare system on Dec. 1 — raising some, lowering others

(Utah Transit Authority | Courtesy photo) This 2014 file photo shows a UTA fare enforcement surge. The agency is launching a new fare structure on Dec. 1 that will raise some fares and lower others.

The Utah Transit Authority will launch a new fare structure on Dec. 1 — raising some prices and lowering others — after working all year to simplify a complicated patchwork of at least 74 levels of discounts, promotions and negotiated deals.

The UTA Board adopted the changes this week that will keep its current base fare of $2.50 per ride, but it make several changes to discounts, passes and charges for premium and express services in what it calls a simplification of its fare structure.

For example, it is proposing that all premium services will cost $5 a ride (or twice the base fare). That will boost the cost of ski bus and Park City Express buses from $4.50 to $5. But it will drop the cost of express bus routes from $5.50 to $5.

Also, the cost of a regular day pass for TRAX and bus will decrease from $6.25 to $5 (or twice the base fare). A regular monthly pass for bus and TRAX will increase from $83.75 to $85 (or 34 times the base fare). And a premium bus pass covering bus, TRAX and FrontRunner service will decrease from $198 to $170 (or 34 times the premium fare).

Some current discounts for buses will decrease by half. A current 40% discount on bus fare for those who used electronic FAREPAY cards (providing a $1.50 fare) will instead become a 20% discount (or $2 a ride).

UTA will boost a 25% discount on monthly passes for youth and Horizon cardholders for low-income people to 50% to align them with discounts for seniors.

UTA also will eliminate its use of bus tokens — saying minting and processing them costs too much. It will also do away with a 30-day Park City bus pass, saying few people used them and the cost of offering and processing them was too high.

It also will end sales of monthly passes on ticket vending machines, and instead will offer them online, through the agency’s phone app or at customer service centers.

More information about changes is available at rideutah.com.

UTA Board member Beth Holbrook said as the changes were adopted, “It is always an evolving science to try to figure out where costs should be and how service should look.”

The agency has been working all year to simplify what had evolved through the years into a complicated system of scores of different discounts, promotions and negotiated deals.

It was so complicated that the agency said earlier this year in response to an open records request by The Salt Lake Tribune that it has no idea how many of its tens of millions of passenger rides each year are free or discounted, and how many people pay the full $2.50 cash fare for a one-way trip.