UTA ridership spikes during ‘Free Fare February’

Apr 6, 2022, 3:35 PM
FILE (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)...
FILE (Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)
(Photo: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns could not resist the pull of a free ride on UTA trains and busses during the “Free Fare February” experiment, according to a just-completed report.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall proposed the idea in December as a way to cut pollution during what is typically one of the poorest air quality months along the Wasatch Front.

The UTA Board of Trustees approved the month of free fares on January 26, 2022.


“The success of Free Fare February proves that people are far more likely to ride public transit when barriers like cost are removed and I can’t wait to work with our partners to find more opportunities to expand free transit,” said Mendenhall.


A news release said UTA services increased in February were up by large margins compared to January.

UTA said it saw ridership averages grow significantly on all services. Ridership on weekdays increased 16%, FrontRunner grew 35.7% for the month, and UTA On Demand saw a 23% increase.

Saturdays saw the biggest increases with Frontrunner up a whopping 202%, 74.5% for Trax, and overall ridership up 58%.  Average ridership on Sundays increased 32.5% overall, 144% on UTA On Demand alone.

Mendenhall said, “UTA and all of our partners have been tremendous for buying into this idea and making an air quality advocate’s dream come true.”

UTA said 5,000 riders responded to a survey that showed more than half of them used UTA services in February because it was free and 87% said they were likely to keep riding on UTA if services were free.

An analysis by UTA found the air quality benefit increased as much as 67% according to the news release.

“We’re proud to work with our state, regional, and local partners for cleaner air in Utah,” said UTA Board of Trustees Chair Carlton Christensen. “Free Fare February was a success. Transit is part of a healthier, vibrant quality of life in Utah. We encourage everyone to ride UTA instead of driving, you can help counter the negative effects of harmful pollution and reduce congestion on our roads and highways.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Michael Houck

South Jordan police investigate suspicious death involving vehicle fire

South Jordan Police are looking into a "suspicious" death involving a vehicle fire that happened on Thanksgiving.
19 hours ago
Local customers shop celebrate Small Business Saturday at Beehive Naturals (KSL-TV)...
Karah Brackin

Utah businesses see support during Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday marks a day to celebrate and support the small businesses in a community, many of which depend on the influx of shoppers coming in.
19 hours ago
West Valley police officers respond as a protest at the West Valley City Police Department is disru...
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Utah Man pleads guilty to pepper spraying Black Lives Matter protesters

A man pled guilty on Tuesday to hitting Black Lives Matter protesters with pepper spray at a demonstration in West Valley City in September 2020 as part of a plea deal.
19 hours ago
A trash can fire that Mountain Green officials say is suspicious. (Mountain Green Fire Protection D...
Michael Houck

Mountain Green fire crews take down ‘suspicious’ trash can fire

First responders extinguished a burning trash can Friday evening, replicating a fire from a year ago in the Mountain Green area.
19 hours ago
The family with Baby Charlie in a living room....
Andrew Adams

Couple gives thanks to EMT who delivered baby unexpectedly-early

Mikaella and Preston Clark were hoping to make it to Utah Valley Hospital on Aug. 17 to give birth via VBAC to Charlie, when it appeared Charlie didn’t want to wait.
19 hours ago
A man already accused of aggravated human trafficking is now charged with trying to tamper with wit...
Logan Stefanich, KSL.com

2 men arrested for allegedly enticing minors online and by text

Two men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly enticing minors by internet or text, according to law enforcement.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
UTA ridership spikes during ‘Free Fare February’