Petitioners praise expansion of UTA service

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Photo provided by UTA Transit Riders Union.
UTA Transit Riders Union

Following the announcement of its budget and newly appointed chair of the board, UTA has announced it will be making several improvements to its service, including extended hours and improved WiFi service.

The UTA board of trustees was presented with the new budget on Oct. 8, which included $500,000 for expanding holiday service.

“This means UTA will offer Saturday service on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day,” said UTA spokesperson Remi Barron. “Additionally, UTA will not make service cuts in 2015.”

Alex Cragun, organizer of a petition to expand UTA’s service, said he welcomes the new changes.

“UTA has been making an effort in the last few months to be more responsive to transit riders,” Cragun said. “People want consistent, reliable public transportation, and providing transportation for people on holidays is important.”

UTA also plans on spending $2.5 million to improve transit WiFi services as it adopts a more customer-centric approach to transit service. Cragun believes this will draw in more business for UTA.

“Clearly people like to work and ride at the same time; improving this service incentivizes more companies to provide rail passes for their employees,” Cragun said.

Many of these changes have been attributed to H. David Burton, former presiding bishop of the LDS Church, who was inaugurated as UTA’s new chair of the board on Sept. 24. The new budget proposal was one of the first things to be addressed.

The UTA board of trustees plans to meet again on Oct. 22 to review the proposed budget. The board will also give the public an opportunity to see the draft budget and offer helpful criticism and suggestions

The 2015 draft budget will be available for public review from Nov. 1 through Nov. 28, with a public hearing scheduled on Nov. 19.

Chris Stout, co-founder of the Utah Transit Riders Union, said he plans to review the budget himself. However, he is guarding his optimism about UTA’s response to suggestions.

“It’s been our experience that UTA rarely acts upon riders’ comments concerning the budget,” Stout said. “We will stress that more money needs to be allocated for late-night, weekend and holiday service.”

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