UTA mails 95,000 free bus passes

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SALT LAKE CITY -- UTA has spent thousands of dollars mailing out free bus passes to a select number of residents in the state. UTA wants to boost ridership, so they sent out either free electronic passes -- or coupons -- valid for one week.

The idea is to get more people to ride under-used routes. UTA says the $50,000 it spent on giving the passes is worth every penny.

Example of free UTA pass. Click to enlarge
Example of free UTA pass. Click to enlarge

Maxwell lives close to this bus stop on 300 South and 600 West. That's why he got a free bus card in the mail.

"We sent about 95,000 mailers, all sent to residents within a quarter mile or half mile of the bus routes we were targeting," said UTA spokesperson Gerry Carpenter.

UTA is targeting 10 routes from Ogden to Utah County that are pretty much empty.

"We are really just trying to encourage people to come out and ride that bus that runs down their street, and they say, ‘Maybe I will try that some day,'" Carpenter said.

Maxwell, for one, is all about the campaign. "They should have done this a long time ago," he said.

UTA spent $50,000 to send out 95,000 free weekly passes to homes along 10 underutilized bus routes in Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties.

The cost for all the free rides -- $50,000 -- was worth it, Carpenter says, because UTA has done a smaller promotion like this once before and the payback was big.

Of the 95,000 residents the passes were mailed to, UTA expects anywhere from 10,000 to 11,000 Utahns to become avid riders.

This campaign won't just benefit UTA.

"If we can get people an excuse to get out of their cars, save on gas, there really is a boom to the economy," Carpenter said.

The passes are valid for any routes on TRAX or local buses and partial fare on FrontRunner and Express Passes. They expire Aug. 31.

Because the cards are electronic, UTA can track how many times they are used as well as where that person gets on and off.

E-mail: abutterfield@ksl.com

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