UTAH'S AIR QUALITY

UTA announces ‘Zero Fare for Clean Air’ on Thursday and Friday

Aug 16, 2023, 4:12 PM | Updated: 4:13 pm

TRAXX train stop...

A train stops at the Utah Transit Authority TRAX station at 600 Main Street in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 26, 2023. (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Transit Authority announced free fare days August 17-18. The free fare days, called “Zero Fare for Clean Air” are funded by the Utah State Legislature. The project intends to increase awareness and encourage public transit use on bad air quality days.

According to a press release from UTA, free fare will be available on all UTA bus and rail services. This includes TRAX, FrontRunner, the S-Line Streetcar, Paratransit, UTA on demand, and Park City-SLC Connect services.

GREENbike is also offering a free day pass during these days. Users can use the promo code 8123 in the GREENbike BCycle app.

Transit & air quality

UTA’s press release said the Zero Fare for Clean Air program is part of a science-driven effort to improve the air quality in the Wasatch Front. The goal of the program is to encourage more people to use transit instead of driving.

According to Utah Department of Environmental Quality Director Kim Shelley, vehicles are the largest contributor to the air quality challenges that the Wasatch Front faces.

“Summertime ozone pollution is not something we can see like our winter inversions, but overthe past few years, some of our worst air quality days have been in the summer months,” said Shelley.

When barriers, such as fares are removed, people choose the option that reduces pollution, which is public transit.

Funding for Zero Fare days was granted by House Bill 353 during the 2019 Legislative session.

In 2022, there were four Zero Fare days in February and September. During the entire month of February fare was free and new riders accounted for 19% of trips recorded by UTA. Almost 50% of respondents did not use a car to access the transit they used.

Zero Fare days in September 2022 also resulted in increased ridership. UTA said that there were increases of 12.7% on buses, 9% on FrontRunner, and 5.9% on TRAX.

Zero Fare days are determined by UTA and the Utah Division of Air Quality [DAQ]. Science and health risk are considered in the process. The DAQ constantly monitors Utah’s air to identify when ozone levels and particulate matter levels are unhealthy.

When these levels are forecasted to be unhealthy, the DAQ calls for a Mandatory Action Day. These action days mean that Utahns should avoid high-emission activities such as wood burning, operating gas-powered yard equipment, and extensive driving.

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UTA announces ‘Zero Fare for Clean Air’ on Thursday and Friday