SLC mayor helps kick off UTA’s free fare February

Feb 1, 2022, 12:38 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 3:45 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — No tickets are required for a ride on any Utah Transit Authority bus or train – not just Tuesday, but all month.

“Free fare February” marks the first time UTA has offered free fares for an entire month. Commuters can ride free every day in February on any bus, ski bus, paratransit services, FrontRunner, TRAX, the Park City-SLC Connect and UTA On Demand in southwestern Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City – Westside.

Salt Lake City has worked with private donors to cover the $1.3 million cost, and if one Utah lawmaker has his way, free fares would apply all the time.

“With the inversion temporarily moved out, I saw a lot of people on the bus this morning,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

Mendenhall jumped on the TRAX red line near Rice-Eccles Stadium to lead the charge.

“I encourage people to take that plunge if they haven’t had before,” she said.

Mendenhall said ditching the car helps clear the air, and riders can save time and money.

“The single biggest contributor to our air pollution is cars that we drive — 42% of Salt Lake County,” she said. “When you’re sitting on that bus, it’s relaxing. You can catch up on work and emails, listen to a podcast.”

UTA ridership has gone down. In February, an average of 160,000 people ride UTA. Last February, it was closer to 70,000.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, has proposed HB164, which would make free fares permanent.

He argues more people riding public transit takes more cars off the road and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Mendenhall said they need a solution – fast.

“As the fastest-growing population in the country, how people move affects our quality of life,” she said.

Some who are put off by public transit say they need more bus routes and a simpler process to figure out what line or service to take.

But UTA officials said they try to make things easy to follow on their website and app. They encourage you to put in some free practice this month.

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SLC mayor helps kick off UTA’s free fare February