UTAH

How can UTA increase ridership? Run trains, buses more often, audit recommends

Apr 17, 2024, 11:00 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 1:01 pm

A UTA bus travels along Fort Union Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022....

A UTA bus travels along Fort Union Boulevard in Cottonwood Heights on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Ridership of the Utah Transit Authority has begun to rebound after a pandemic-related slump, but the authority could further increase the number of commuters it serves by improving on-time performance and adopting a comprehensive plan to boost service frequency, according to a UTA legislative audit released Wednesday.

The report, which was requested by state lawmakers, also noted that a change in governance of the authority has shown improvement, but turnover in executive positions has hindered some necessary improvements.

The last such audit of UTA was completed in 2014, and Jesse Martinson told the Legislative Audit Subcommittee Wednesday that the authority has implemented nearly all of the previous recommendations and has “improved a great deal since that audit.”

Auditors dedicated one chapter of the latest report to recommending that UTA set “innovative goals” for the next decade of ridership, when growth in the Beehive State is expected to continue. They noted that the number of transit trips per capita had been steadily declining even before the COVID-19 pandemic tanked ridership in 2020.

Utah transit ridership is improving post-pandemic faster than a majority of other transit agencies in the country, the report notes, but auditors recommend further improvements to make transit more appealing to drivers in the state.

READ MORE: Park City group disappointed in UDOT’s wildlife crossing decision

“The problem with transit is, it competes with a car. We’re a car culture here,” August Lehman, an audit supervisor, told the committee. “In order for transit to be competitive, they need to be competitive when it comes to how long it takes to do a trip.”

The report identifies three areas for improvement — speed, performance and frequency — and recommends the authority tackle each by reducing routine delays in transit, increasing on-time delivery and increasing the frequency with buses and trains visit stops.

Read the full story from KSL.com here.

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How can UTA increase ridership? Run trains, buses more often, audit recommends