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Lawmakers tell UTA to keep its name

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Transit Authority won’t be changing its name after all.

The two lawmakers who sponsored legislation earlier this year to change the leadership structure and name of the agency told UTA to cease all rebranding efforts. The Wednesday announcement comes after public outcry over the estimated $50 million UTA said it would need to complete the name-change overhaul.

“It has now become a distraction,” Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville said of the name change.

“It has now become a distraction and it needs to be jettisoned,” Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, said of the name change, “so we can move forward with the larger picture and the more important things.”

Harper, along with Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, both sponsors of Senate Bill 136, told UTA to not proceed with getting bids for repainting the agency’s logo on buses and trains to display the proposed name of Transit District of Utah.

The name change mandate was part of a larger piece of legislation aimed at changing UTA’s leadership structure.

“The name change was a minimal aspect of the bill. No money was appropriated to rebrand UTA,” Rep. Schultz said in a prepared statement. “The purpose of this legislation is to revamp the transit agency by increasing transparency, improving checks and balances and providing local governments with the necessary tools to assist with the growing demand for multimodal transportation.”

The two lawmakers said there has been “confusion and misinformation” about the process, especially when it comes to $50 million price tag that UTA supplied to lawmakers.

“This was put out there by UTA as a way to create controversy around the name change — to mislead the public,” Rep. Schultz said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The Utah Transit Authority estimated it would cost $50 million to change the agency’s name.

A UTA spokesperson told KSL that the agency gave the cost estimation to the Legislature in good faith and pushed back at Schultz’s assertion that it was intentionally misleading.

“Perhaps we are off on the number,” UTA spokesperson Carl Arky said, “but we made the best effort that we could to come up with an accurate number.”

Arky said the agency had only put a small amount of time and effort into the plan to change the name.

To make it official, Sen. Harper said a new piece of legislation would need to be passed during the 2019 Utah Legislative Session to undo the name change mandate.

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