Utah Transit Authority members elected H. David Burton as the new chairman of its board of trustees Wednesday, Sept. 24.
Burton, who previously served as a presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and helped develop the TRAX light rail system, will serve a two-year term, after which he may return upon re-election.
The UTA board has endured mounting criticism after a questionable legislative audit exposed the agency of overpaying executives, mismanaging debt and tallying next to $3 billion in expected maintenance costs for new rail projects.
Burton intends to rebuild public trust in the agency and its leaders.
“We’re going to listen carefully to the needs of the public,” he said. “We need to improve on what we’re doing. You earn public trust by the service you render, and as I’ve said, service is our middle name.”
UTA’s primary petitioners, the Utah Transit Riders Union, also attended the inauguration. The activist group is pushing UTA to make changes to it transit services, such as extending the frequency of service hours to all riders.
In recent weeks, the group actively challenged UTA’s board members to rely on their own transit system as their sole means of transportation for seven days. Only three board members accepted the challenge.
Alex Cragun, who helps lead the union, said he is excited about UTA’s new change in leadership.
“I feel optimistic about the new chair and his position,” Cragun said. “He has a lot of experience in management, and I look forward to working with him.”
Cragun and his supporters aren’t the only ones demanding change. Many college students who rely on UTA to commute to school also see the need for improvement.
“I’d like to see lower prices on the Frontrunner,” said Bradley Pew, a BYU law student. “It’s actually cheaper for us to drive to Salt Lake and back, but we only have one car.”
Protestors believe Burton provides the transition that Utah transit needs right now.
“They’ve definitely been very open, and these are the first steps in the right direction for a good change,” Cragun said.