SALT LAKE CITY: For many Utahans, work and doctor’s appointments are just a drive, Uber or train ride away. But what about the people who can’t afford those options?
The Utah Transit Authority started a pilot program this month to give fare cards to low-income individuals and families for free.
Here’s how it works: the UTA will offer human and family service organizations a 75% discount on all fare cards so they can give rides to their clients for free. Before today, UTA’s programs focused mainly on homeless individuals and only offered organizations a 50% discount. This new program has also expanded to include low-income families as well as the homeless.
Carl Arky, Spokesperson for the UTA, said that the “UTA has long worked with the homeless. They need to get to a doctor’s appointment, they need to get to a job.”
Arky, and all of the UTA, is hoping this program will help people to help themselves. If transportation is available, the homeless or low-income families can maintain jobs and have the potential to pull themselves out of poverty.
One of the organizations that the UTA focuses on is the Odyssey House of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Randall Carlisle, the media relations specialist for the Odyssey House, explained that their organization is a behavioral health treatment center. They serve about 1,000 clients a day in their various programs, and many of them require public transportation.
“UTA is so critical to the success of our clients,” Carlisle said.
It’s especially critical for people like Gil Hamelman, who takes the Frontrunner nearly every day to visit his kids, get to his doctor appointments and travel to a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City.
“I can’t afford a car so, I ride the bus and the train!” said Hamelman.
When he heard about the UTA’s new pilot program, he responded by saying, “You don’t know how great that is for people like me.”
The pilot program will go for six months, then the UTA will assess where to go from there. For more information, you can call the UTA at 801-743-3882.