UTA Free Fare Days Could Be Used to Combat Air Pollution

Dec 11, 2018, 6:54 PM | Updated: 9:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Wasatch Front has been covered with a thick blanket of smog and pollution, but there could soon be a new tool to fight the murky inversion in the future – and UTA may help.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert wants to set aside $100 million in 2020 for cleaner air. Part of that money would go towards free public transportation days during times of poor air quality.

Utah Transit Authority spokesman Carl Arky said a lot of details still need to be worked out before a solid plan can come into picture, but agreed the public transportation system offered a way to reduce the level of pollution created by commuter vehicles.

“How can we respond? How quickly can we respond? What would it take to do so? There’s a million moving parts, and we look forward to the challenge of figuring that out,” Arky said.

UTA organized a Free Fare Friday in December 2017. Ridership went up about 23 percent that day. Arky said the increase in ridership proved both that people will use public transportation, and that UTA can pull it off.

That free day, in particular, cost about $75,000, according to Arky.

“I think UTA is ready,” Arky said. “We just want to sit down, and we want to hear what the governor’s office is thinking, and what they’re thinking up at Capitol Hill, and work with them.”

While Herbert has $100 million earmarked for cleaner air, it’s not clear how much of that would go towards the free fare days.

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UTA Free Fare Days Could Be Used to Combat Air Pollution