Posted by: Deb Henry | 02/17/2011

Paying your ‘fare share’ for transit in Utah

The Utah Transit Authority is proposing changes to its current fare structure. This change has sparked some conversation online and off as to why this fare proposal is necessary when UTA is admittedly not strict about checking for tickets.

ABC 4 even picked up on the ire and produced a segment dedicated to confirming UTA’s ticket-checking policy for themselves.

Since I was one of the outspoken ones about UTA’s lax ticket enforcement policy, the friendly people at UTA sat down and talked with me for over two hours about our different perspectives on transportation. (It was a friendly and insightful meeting that I will comment more on later.) Since I am not sure if I will be able to participate in their 11am Twitter chat tomorrow, I wanted to make sure I mentioned the transit enthusiast’s point of view on the casual enforcement of checking for tickets.

As UTA pointed out to me, the majority of the people who take transit choose to do so (UTA said 75%). This majority elects to take transit over another mode of transportation. They elect to contribute to a system of transportation that allows a better quality of life for the community and health of our economy. It is this loyalty that is precisely what makes not being acknowledged as a supporter frustrating/ insulting. I would equate it to the feeling one gets when they pay their yearly dues to their public radio station and feel confident slapping the KRCL or NPR sticker on their bicycle, Nalgene or (gasp!) car bumper. The sticker proudly announces their membership to a tribe who is proactively participating in the change they want to see in their world.

The revenue from the fare jumpers may be small in the scope of the operating budget of UTA, but the psychological effects of feeling like a freeloader instead of a sustaining member — run deep.

  • For the record, I am in favor of the fare increase/change. Utahans need more dedicated (and less convoluted) revenue streams for transportation of all kinds. Right now we have volatile revenue sources like sales tax that fluctuate with the market and make managing the operating budget of a system of infrastructure a very difficult task. Do some research on how we pay for transit and roads in this state. I have a feeling you’ll be a bit surprised at what you find.
  • You can also watch my presentation from last year’s Ignite where I talk more about transportation
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Responses

  1. Insightful comments Deb. It was a pleasure speaking with you a couple of weeks ago.

    Perception is everything…Unfortunately, we simply don’t have the financing to implement more frequent fare checking. Particularly where the fare evasion rate is among the lowest in the nation at 1.4% More frequent checks would cost far more than the revenue generated by ensuring payment from the few fare evaders on our system.


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